There are times in a man’s life when he must gird his loins and summon all of his powers of ratiocination in order to do battle with an intellectual opponent. The need for courage and peak performance arises whenever his opponent’s gifts of reasoning, cleverness or rhetoric exceed his own. Brave indeed is the man who enters the arena knowing full well that his opponent is armed with the intellectual equivalent of a broadsword, while he packs the intellectual equivalent of a fish knife.
There are other times in a man’s life, however, when his intellectual opponent poses no challenge whatsoever, because it is he that carries the broadsword and his opponent the fish knife. In those cases, a man need not summon all of his powers of ratiocination to enter the arena. He had still better gird his loins, though, because an idiot wielding a fish knife can safely be assumed to be ready to stick that knife wherever he — or she — can. The concepts of fair and foul play should be assumed to be beyond the grasp of an idiot.
A prime example of just this type of idiot is Ms. Lisa Richards, who writes for David Horowitz’s NewsRealBlog. Ms. Richards is apparently vying for the title of "liar par excellence" at NewsRealBlog, which is the second most coveted award at Horowitz’s site — the first being, of course, "lunatic par excellence." Richards is a truly remarkable idiot, in that she can almost effortlessly shift gears between making fallacious arguments and lying. One minute she will tell outright lies, and the next she will gracefully and almost imperceptibly construct the flimsiest straw man argument you can possibly imagine. It is an art, of sorts, and I would encourage Horowitz to give her the award.
Her recent article attempting to link libertarian anarchism to Saul Alinsky, contains not even one sentence that is not either an outright lie or a preposterous non sequitur. Take her opening paragraph, for example:
Radical libertarians are equivalent to leftist Saul Alinskyites. Both despise government and the Constitution, seeking to destroy America. Alinksy wanted a community government; radical libertarians want Rothbardian uprisings to destroy government and wealth altogether for communal equality. To accomplish this, radical libertarians demand anarchy.
This paragraph contains so many non sequiturs that it makes one think Richards is clinically insane, instead of just a run-of-the-mill idiot. First, we libertarian anarchists do indeed despise government, but from this premise how does it follow that we seek "to destroy America"? What does "destroy America" even mean? Is she really suggesting that we anarchists want all the people of America dead? If she is suggesting this, then she truly is insane. The second assertion about Rothbardian anarchists is even more ridiculous. To suggest that Rothbard or his followers seek to "destroy…wealth altogether for communal equality" is the most preposterous thing I have ever read. Richards is apparently unaware that Rothbard was an economist, and thus wrote voluminously about wealth creation, not wealth destruction. He also wrote Egalitarianism as a Revolt against Nature, and was thus no fan of "communal equality," if this awkward phrase is used by Richards as a synonym for some variant of egalitarianism. Finally, the idea that libertarian anarchists "want Rothbardian uprisings" to eliminate the state is a bald-faced lie, if she is suggesting that we Rothbardians endorse violence. We, unlike her publisher, don’t endorse aggressive violence.
Moving into the body of the article, one finds even more outright lies and non sequiturs. The next big lie comes in the form of a citation from my recent article discussing anarchism. She cites my article in the following way:
Americans assume Human nature is so intrinsically evil and depraved that, without cops walking the streets, judges locking up potheads, and politicians buying hookers and crack in Washington, the entire world would devolve into a horrifying bloodbath.
When I really wrote this:
It usually goes something like this: Human nature is so intrinsically evil and depraved that, without cops walking the streets, judges locking up potheads, and politicians buying hookers and crack in Washington, the entire world would devolve into a horrifying bloodbath.
Did you notice what she did here? She changed the first part of the sentence to read "Americans," when I never even mentioned Americans before this sentence, or even in this sentence. This gives the impression that I am "anti-American," in order to scare the easily terrified kooks who read Horowitz’s blog. For all they know from this quote, I must be an Islamo-fascist with an Italian last name (like Mussolini!) who wants to blow up the moon.
When she turns to discuss my argument, Richards, taking off her liar hat and donning her idiot hat once again, lets loose with a barrage of non sequiturs. I am charged with the following:
Crovelli’s argument is sheer stupidity. Without laws, mankind disintegrates. Society can’t survive and thrive without leadership and checking [sic] and balancing leaders [sic]. Yet Crovelli claims human nature lacks depravity, man is not "brutish," and society would work better without laws and with "the absence of police officers."
Setting aside how horribly written this is, take a gander at the gigantic non sequiturs these sentences contain. Never did I claim in my article that man needs no laws. Never did I claim in my article that man does not need "leadership" (by which, I assume, she means we need philosopher kings like Bush II). Richards is simply jumping to the conclusion that anarchy means "no laws and no leadership," but this simply does not follow from my argument. Anarchists of the Hoppean variety, like myself, do not condemn all authority, and libertarian anarchists of all stripes do not condemn laws. What we do condemn are laws that do not apply to all people equally, (e.g., don’t steal, unless you’re a tax collector), and "authority" that is rooted solely in aggression (e.g., if you smoke that plant, I will lock you up in a cage). Since this is so, Richards’ entire argument is nothing but an oh-so flimsy straw man.
Things only get worse from here, both in terms of reasoning and in terms of writing. Richards cites and responds to a Rothbard quote discussing the Jeffersonian and Jacksonian movements by claiming that the Declaration of Independence wasn’t an anarchist document. Not being content to limit her fallacious reasoning to non sequiturs, she apparently decided to mix in a little red herring for good measure. Needless to say, it is completely irrelevant to discuss the meaning of the Declaration of Independence in a discussion about the Jeffersonian and Jacksonian movements.
Richards then cites another Rothbard quote discussing the hideous immorality of war and somehow manages to describe the quote as follows:
Alinsky and Rothbard used social justice tactics — no one is evil except government and wealth. Government and laws create crime, not lawless people. Destroy both and all will be free. Radical libertarianism is anti-Jeffersonian conservative [sic]; it is Marxist.
Now, even for a person with as modest a level of intelligence as Ms. Richards, it should be obvious that Rothbard’s quote has absolutely nothing to do with "social justice tactics," whatever that phrase is intended to mean. Not only that, but to claim that Rothbard is saying that "no one is evil except government and wealth" can only be described as a non sequitur of the most childish and crassest variety. Once again, Rothbard never, ever claimed that wealth is "evil," and he never, ever claimed that only governments are "evil." He often distinguished, following the likes of Augustine and Lysander Spooner, between what he called "private criminals" and "public criminals," the latter being richer and more dangerous than the former, but existing nonetheless.
The claim here that Rothbard, and later that Ralph Raico, are Marxists is the most interesting of Richards’ many fabrications, because it reveals that she is either ignorant beyond repair or a liar of the most extreme sort. She appears to hold the sociopathic view that any people who oppose war are dangerous "leftists." She claims Raico is a Marxist because he wrote an article in 1991 (not quite his most recent article, I would hasten to remind her) celebrating the fall of the Soviet Union. How a person could think that an article celebrating the fall of the U.S.S.R. was "Marxist" is difficult to fathom, and tends to reinforce the idea that Richards is more an idiot than a liar. The same is just as true of her claim that Rothbard, the vocal critic of socialism and Marxism, was a Marxist. Pulling in the other direction, however, that she is more a liar than an idiot, is her next non sequitur; that libertarians "insist terrorists are not criminals. Instead, the military and police are." Only a liar could claim with a straight face that libertarians, the people who claim that life, liberty and property are inviolable, "insist" that terrorists are not criminals. We do say that politicians, police and soldiers are often the biggest terrorists of all, but that hardly means that "private" terrorists are less vile to us.
The rest of the article is filled with even more horrendously written, foaming at the mouth, lies and non sequiturs. The purpose of the last few paragraphs seems to be to reassure the Neocon readers of Horowitz’s loony blog that the cold war is still going on. Today’s libertarian anarchists are the new Red Menace that the Neocon crowd needs to justify the gigantic war-making and social engineering machine in Washington that all Neocons worship.
Libertarians should rejoice in her article, however. Few writers are less eloquent than Ms. Richards, and fewer still are capable of reasoning as badly as she. She has done the libertarian world a great service by exposing, even more pointedly than my article, the absolute absurdity of government. On behalf of the libertarian anarchists of the world, thank you, Ms. Richards.
Mark R. Crovelli [send him mail] writes from Denver, Colorado.