NY Times Alarmed: Tea Party Reading Unapproved Texts

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Thanks to Bud Bronstein for this piece by Kate Zernike from the NY Times, “Movement of the Moment Looks to Long-Ago Texts.” Catch the ideological presentism. Instead of just reading the latest approved tomes and today’s issue of the Times, people are learning from “obscure” old books by dead people.

The Tea Party “has resurrected once-obscure texts by dead writers — in some cases elevating them to best-seller status — to form a kind of Tea Party canon. Recommended by Tea Party icons like Ron Paul and Glenn Beck, the texts are being quoted everywhere from protest signs to Republican Party platforms.” The idea of a movement animated by ideas rather than leaders is just right. Bastiat, Hayek, and Mises are magnificent, and also just what one would expect from a movement born in Ron Paulism.

But to this they add an unfortunate religion-based quite literal worship of the Constitution and the Founders, as promoted by Glenn Beck and FBI agent Cleon Skousen. There were good men among the Founders—and bad ones too—but they only get that title for founding the federal government. That is hardly something to herald. As Murray Rothbard—the intellectual and strategist the Tea Party really needs—pointed out, the roots of American liberty are far deeper than the unfortunate year of 1789.

Oh, and Tea Partiers, read Ron and Hazlitt too, as well as the authentic history of Tom Woods and Tom DiLorenzo. NB: the whole NYT article is worth reading. I do love the concern that dead Austrian economists are influencing Tea Party people rather than that ADD-Keynesian Paul Krugman.

Oh no: “Bastiat called taxation ‘legal plunder,’ allowing the government to take something from one person and use it for the benefit of someone else, ‘doing what the citizen himself cannot do without committing a crime.’ In his view, protective tariffs, subsidies, progressive taxation, public schools, a minimum wage, and public assistance programs were of a piece. ‘All of these plans as a whole,’ he wrote, ‘constitute socialism.'”

9:15 am on October 2, 2010