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Tuesday, September 08, 2015

Asymmetric Blogfare

I visit various blogs and post critical comments from time to time. Even on libertarian blogs. Indeed, to anti-paraphrase Thumper from Bambi, if you can't post something critical, why post anything at all?

Cafe Hayek focuses on the benefits of free markets, free trade and innovations, and, as everyone here is (painfully?) aware, I'm very much in agreement. However, unlike the economist Don Boudreaux, the main Cafe Hayek blogger, who remains willfully ignorant that sometimes people are damaged by these things, especially innovations, especially in the short term, it's clear to me that sometimes change is painful.  As a result, I wrote the following comment in reply to one of the posts:
Change nearly always produces both winners and losers, and while innovations heavily favor the winners, especially over the long run, libertarians willfully ignoring the real pain of those whose lives are badly damaged or even destroyed by economic changes are a major turn off to vast swaths of the populace. 
The ideology that it's perfectly okay, indeed a wonderful thing, to allow and encourage serious destruction of some people's lives for the greater good is not widely shared by your fellow americans.
For me, pretty much a 30 second, throwaway comment, right? Well, much to my surprise and amazement, Prof. Boudreaux dedicated not one, but two long posts in an attempt to skewer my throwaway comment.

I'll leave it up to you whether or not and to what extent he succeeded in his skewering. He certainly succeeded as far as his avid readers (i.e his "choir" to which he preaches) are concerned. One reason for that is that I have no way to respond that will have the force of his posts. I guess that's what happens when you attack someone on their blog - asymmetric blogfare. I hope none of you feel that I've done that to you.


Howard said...

If you were trying to let Don know that not everyone had unalloyed enthusiasm for creative destruction, perhaps to encourage development of gently persuasive arguments, you were far too subtle. It's hard to separate that dog from his ultra-libertarian bone.

Bret said...

Subtle? Me?

Or are you saying the minimum level of subtlety to get through to Don is a bat taken to his head? Or an ultra-libertarian bone to his head?

Clovis e Adri said...

Interesting, Bret. I'll read his posts later on, but let me first point out that, among the many qualities of this blog, is the fact that his owner is the best moderator I've ever seen.

So no, I never felt the effects of asymmetric blogfare down here. Maybe even the contrary: I have the impression your replies (in the comment section) sometimes are more polite precisely because you do not want to hit your audience too hard.

Bret said...

Thanks, Clovis, your comment is very kind.

Clovis e Adri said...

So my main thought upon reading Cafe Hayek is: if they really care for libertarianism and freedom, why the heck you need a Facebook account to post a comment there?

Prof. Boudreaux suffers from a common problem among Professors, which is to think he is writing for idiots. He not only does a poor job of lecturing you in the wonders of free market, but fails to address your point entirely. Considering he dedicated two posts for that, it is a remarkable lesson in missing the mark.

Bret said...

Clovis wrote: "...but fails to address your point entirely. Considering he dedicated two posts for that, it is a remarkable lesson in missing the mark."

That's exactly what I thought - that he didn't actually manage to address my point.

I've written an email to him which I'll cross post here. Let's see if he responds.

They went to facebook commenting because they had too many trolls ruining their comment section. Personally, I think I preferred the previous format with the trolls, but hey, it's their blog.

Peter said...

You should be honoured, Bret. In their discussion about you, the faithful there seem to be debating the question the left reserves for right-wing politicians like Bush: Is Bret lying or merely thick?

There are other similarities. For classical leftists, citizens, at least the only ones of value, are "workers" and the priority is their compensation and working conditions. The general health of the enterprise and the economy are secondary at best. For ideological libertarians, citizens are "consumers" and have no valid complaint about anything as long as prices keep falling and "innovations" abound. Ageless, rational, infinitely mobile, in good health and instinctively in tune with their self-interest, they take the long term view. When they lose their jobs, watch their communities decline, see families break-up and mental health take a tumble, they just pack their bags and give thanks they are so much better off than folks in the 18th century.

Forget the lawyers, let's kill all the economists.

Clovis e Adri said...


They went to facebook commenting because they had too many trolls ruining their comment section.

Oh yes, to defend freedom only up to the point it doesn't bother you: Libertarianism in a nutshell.

Bret said...


Not really. Libertarians certainly believe in property rights and the right to utilize property as one sees fit. A blog is intangible property and if they see fit to exclude various anonymous commenters (the point of facebook is that it makes it harder to be anonymous), then that's certainly within their right and not in conflict from freedom from government interference.

Libertarianism is about freedom from government interference, not freedom to trod upon those who don't want to be trod upon.

Bret said...


Yeah, that's it exactly. I'm all for liberty, but no ideology has an undebatable answer to everything that ails the extended order.

Clovis e Adri said...


He could ensure non-anonymous participation without asking for something as invasive as opening up a Facebook account, IMO.

Sure it is his blog, he can ask whatever he wants. Yet I feel he may have less respect for the free market of ideas than he may profess.