These opinions warrantied for the lifetime of your brain.

Loading Table of Contents...

Saturday, November 29, 2008

The End Times Are Nigh

Jim Davidson has apparently repudiated his judgment from less than 48 hours ago that "nobody cares" about my criticism of his rationale for the BTP.  He now cares enough to write a lengthy screed filled with ad hominems and straw men far too clumsy to even bother diagnosing.  I'll address only the few substantive points he embeds among all his childish excretions.

His charge that I say we "cannot criticise the party, nor its leaders, nor its nominees" is laughable.  I have been highly critical of the LP and its leaders and nominees.  What does Davidson think a "Reform" Caucus is all about, anyway?  I've been especially critical of the idea of "party loyalty", and have for years said that I'll take liberty from a torch lady or a donkey or an elephant or whoever will give it to me.  I've defended the idea of cross-nominating Ron Paul if he were winning the GOP primaries, and  I've specifically criticized myopic LP rules against endorsing candidates from other parties.

As an LP reformer I of course agree that the LP has not been nearly as effective as it should be. As an LP reformer I indeed advocate a "different path" -- one of mainstream ecumenical libertarianism rather than our old path of crypto-anarchism.  We've been on that path for only six months.  It's simply inane to reason that 1) there has been only one freedom party and 2) it has not been successful, and so therefore 3) we need more than one freedom party.

The LP indeed needs "new ideas".  The main idea it needs is ecumenicism and unity.  It's bizarre to say this idea "hasn't been working" when the LP has barely started to try it.

Davidson rails against "uninformed, uneducated, and idiotic" voters trying to govern him, and he seems to think that having two freedom parties on their ballot will induce voters to study libertarianism twice as much as having just one.  The flaw in this logic is obvious, even to people who don't know about how poorly this has worked out for all the various socialist parties and candidates.

Davidson pretends that I see freedom voters as a well-disciplined "caucus", but he ignores what I added about this point: "e.g. by the party not running an opposing candidate".  Removing the freedom ballot line is in fact the only practical way to achieve any caucus discipline among freedom voters, and it's obvious what implications this has for how many freedom parties is the optimal number.

I've schooled Davidson about the economics of natural monopolies in another thread.

Davidson fantasizes about alternate universes in which fusion voting is allowed everywhere and ballot access barriers are low -- and where Brian Holtz somehow isn't happy about either.  Davidson obviously has a very rich (and paranoid and hate-filled) fantasy life, but the question under discussion is whether a second freedom party is a waste of resources here in the Real World.  I am usually the first to point out that activist efforts are often not very fungible, but only two of my nine arguments against multiple freedom parties relies on the fungibility of activism.  Most of my arguments are about diffusing the effect of the pro-freedom ballot line on voters and politicians, and those arguments assume nothing about the fungibility of activism.

Langa, I agree that Duverger's "Law" is nowhere near as unequivocal as, say, Arrow's Impossibility Theorem.   My point there is just that wasted-vote arguments will tend to motivate each cluster of voters to concentrate their votes in a single party.  The dominant effect in plurality-wins systems will indeed be to pull voters into two larger parties, but there should still be a similar secondary effect working on any voters who cluster outside a primary one-dimensional distribution.

Joe Tauke, your article (like Seebeck's one-liner) makes a fine case for separate party caucuses for clusters of party members with shared candidate/strategy preferences, but makes no case whatsoever for having separate parties for clusters of voters with shared policy goals/direction.  (Hey, if you're a northeast Iowa Tauke, we may be related.)

The End Times must be nigh, because I'm now going to explain the role of caucuses to all you memory-impaired radicals by pointing you to a 1980 essay by none other than Murray Rothbard: