Questions for Arnold Kling, Megan McArdle, Will Wilkinson, and all other Beltway libertarians
A fascinating new blogger who calls himself Former Beltway Wonk pops up with a handy new term, the Orange Line Mafia. (Note to FBW: James Kirchick’s name contains two Cs.)
“Mafia” is perhaps a little harsh. And surely the implication, which FBW in all fairness does not make but perhaps implies, that l’affaire Paul was in some way coordinated—perhaps at some Dupont Circle version of the Bada Bing—is incorrect. When sharks do their shark feeding frenzy thing, it’s not like there’s some shark capo in the background telling them where and when to rip off hunks of flesh. The only coordination signal is blood in the water. And as we’ve seen, your nose for that—at least when it comes to Blut und Boden in its amelanistic morph—needs no sharpening.
But I like the Orange Line tag. I fear it will stick. And so, dear ladies and gentlemen, given your rather vehement views on the Ron Paul controversy, I am curious as to how you might answer the following questions. Please feel free to respond to all, none, some, or more.
1. Which is worse, racism or socialism? Why?
2. Can you imagine living in a world in which socialism was politically incorrect? In other words, in which any comment which even hinted that socialism might be a good idea instantly reminded the listener of the Holodomor, and exposed the commenter to social ostracism, professional destruction, civil and perhaps criminal liability?
3. Define “crimethink.” Do you find this concept useful? Do you believe that it should apply to racism, socialism, neither, or both?
4. Which government was worse: the Soviet Union under Stalin, or the Republic of South Africa under P.W. Botha? Why?
5. Who knows more about human genetics? You, or Francis Crick? Discuss.
6. Do you believe that intellectuals, such as yourself, should write and debate under the theory that American public opinion is generally right until proven wrong? How do you reconcile this with the fact that American public opinion generally sees libertarians, such as yourselves, as a bunch of freaks, cranks and nutcases? Do you consider changing this perception the primary objective of your efforts? Does this ever conflict with just saying what you think? And if so, which wins?
7. Do you find the term “Beltway libertarian” at all pejorative? If so, with what term would you prefer to describe yourselves? Would “responsible libertarian” do? If so, do you find anything odd in the fact that so many responsible libertarians work for the US government or institutions it sponsors?
8. Do you agree or disagree with this quote from Georgi Arbatov?
I pay tribute to the courage and fearlessness of those who, like Andrei Sakharov, risked taking an uncompromising stand… These people were heroes, even martyrs. And if they had not done what they did, I think the changes in our country would not have gone forward so quickly. But had it not been for the many hundreds and thousands who worked inside the system, fought routine skirmishes, tried to stop the pressure of Stalinist conservatism, and defended and promoted the ideas of democracy and peaceful economic reform, the process of revitalization would not have been possible at all.
9. Do you expect that, if the present American system of government is ever defeated by a libertarian movement, you will find yourself, like Arbatov, perceived as a “spokesman at best and toady at worst for the regime”? Or do you expect to be praised and feted for your work inside the system?
10. Do you ride the Orange Line to work?
Update: Arnold Kling, who did take a couple bites of the whale but I have to admit doesn’t really fit the profile, supplies his answers. Wilkinson’s are in the comments.