Not quite an ‘intellectual history of the Right’: Daily Bullshit, July 22-24, 2017

Updates

  1. July 22, 12:20 pm:
    • Jeff Sessions probably did discuss the Trump campaign with the Russian ambassador.[1]
  2. July 23, 11:29 am:
    • [Sigh.] I guess I don’t get to ignore that Donald Trump may or may not but probably is considering pardoning himself.[2] Some things just really are too far over the top for me.
  3. July 24, 2:04 pm:
    • Jared Kushner disclosed a meeting with the then-Russian ambassador at a Washington reception,[3] leading mainstream media outlets to send out news alerts as if this were something important—but this doesn’t look to me like an occasion where anything worth worrying about could have occurred, which leads me to suspect journalists of trying too hard to make a scandal out of this. (Golden Showers)
    • Nancy McLean responds to her critics and is “dishearten[ed by] how many people are willing to criticize the book without reading it.”[4] It’s worth reading this just to see a textbook example for how academics should respond to criticism. (Capitalist Libertarianism and Neoliberalism)

Capitalist Libertarianism and Neoliberalism

Nancy McLean’s effort documents, at most, a part of the story of how capitalist libertarianism developed into neoliberalism. And it probably shouldn’t be regarded as much of a departure from other scholarly work, including my own: That capitalist libertarians developed an academic infrastructure to promote what became neoliberalism[5] and that this infrastructure served to help establish neoliberalism as a new political orthodoxy when Keynesianism was perceived to have failed[6] is hardly new. And no one who has watched capitalist libertarianism will be surprised that this occurred in part at George Mason University. What’s different here is a sense that capitalist libertarians recognized democracy as antithetical to capitalist libertarianism, and again, if one understands the relationship between neoconservatism, neoliberalism, and capitalist libertarianism, this isn’t really that striking a revelation: Neoliberals and capitalist libertarians understand the market as a more compelling expression of ‘democracy’ than politics. But McLean apparently believes that capitalist libertarians acted toward the political system with malice—again, this is not that radical a revelation when one observes the absolute disdain that capitalist libertarians, especially so-called ‘anarchocapitalists,’ hold toward government—and for this, she’s come under vicious attack, especially but not exclusively from (surprise!) capitalist libertarians.[7] I suspect they protest too much.

One thing has really stood out for me. For all the thousands of words that they have written, my critics still fail to engage the central message of the book: Leading libertarian thinkers concluded they could never win over the majority to their agenda. Therefore, they decided to achieve their utopia by attempting to radically change the rules of governance in order to change society.[8]

She could have cited Alfred Jay Nock’s ‘Remnant’ here (she’d just about have to in her book), which is all about the unpopularity of capitalist libertarian ideals and what capitalist libertarians were and, to a dramatically lesser extent today, still are up against.[9] I’m not going to say here that she is right—I still haven’t read her book—but what I have read suggests that her work is, at the very least, plausible.

Marc Parry, “A New History of the Right Has Become an Intellectual Flashpoint,” Chronicle of Higher Education, July 19, 2017, http://www.chronicle.com/article/A-New-History-of-the-Right-Has/240700

Marc Parry, “Nancy MacLean Responds to Her Critics,” Chronicle of Higher Education, July 19, 2017, http://www.chronicle.com/article/Nancy-MacLean-Responds-to-Her/240699

George Monbiot, “Missing Link,” July 21, 2017, http://www.monbiot.com/2017/07/21/missing-link/


Golden Showers

If the Washington Post is right, Trump would be entertaining a breach of historical precedent that could set off a constitutional crisis because there’s a serious possibility that a self-pardon would not be upheld in court. “This is theater of the absurd,” Samuel Gross, a University of Michigan law professor, told Vox’s Sean Illing. “The fact that we’re even talking about it is a measure of how far we’ve fallen under Trump.”[10]

So, allegedly, Donald Trump is extremely frustrated with “unrelenting press coverage of this whole Russian thing, much of it based on leaks that are coming out of various departments.”[11] While he may or may not have the power to pardon himself,[12] he certainly has the power to damn himself.

Carol D. Leonnig, Ashley Parker, Rosalind S. Helderman, and Tom Hamburger, “Trump team seeks to control, block Mueller’s Russia investigation,” Washington Post, July 20, 2017, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trumps-lawyers-seek-to-undercut-muellers-russia-investigation/2017/07/20/232ebf2c-6d71-11e7-b9e2-2056e768a7e5_story.html

Katie Bo Williams and Scott Wong, “Republicans rally around Sessions after Trump criticism,” Hill, July 20, 2017, http://thehill.com/homenews/house/342964-republicans-rally-around-sessions-after-trump-criticism

Katie Bo Williams, “Trump launches all-out assault on Mueller probe,” Hill, July 22, 2017, http://thehill.com/policy/national-security/343164-trump-launches-all-out-assault-on-mueller-probe

Jeff Stein, “The White House denies reports that Trump is looking into pardons,” Vox, July 23, 2017, https://www.vox.com/2017/7/23/16016704/white-house-trump-pardons

Rebecca Ballhaus, “Jared Kushner Details Russia Meetings, Denies Collusion,” Wall Street Journal, July 24, 2017, https://www.wsj.com/articles/jared-kushner-releases-details-on-previously-undisclosed-meeting-with-russian-ambassador-1500890433


Jeff Sessions

Adam Entous, Ellen Nakashima, and Greg Miller, “Sessions discussed Trump campaign-related matters with Russian ambassador, U.S. intelligence intercepts show,” Washington Post, July 21, 2017, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/sessions-discussed-trump-campaign-related-matters-with-russian-ambassador-us-intelligence-intercepts-show/2017/07/21/3e704692-6e44-11e7-9c15-177740635e83_story.html


  1. [1]Adam Entous, Ellen Nakashima, and Greg Miller, “Sessions discussed Trump campaign-related matters with Russian ambassador, U.S. intelligence intercepts show,” Washington Post, July 21, 2017, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/sessions-discussed-trump-campaign-related-matters-with-russian-ambassador-us-intelligence-intercepts-show/2017/07/21/3e704692-6e44-11e7-9c15-177740635e83_story.html
  2. [2]Carol D. Leonnig, Ashley Parker, Rosalind S. Helderman, and Tom Hamburger, “Trump team seeks to control, block Mueller’s Russia investigation,” Washington Post, July 20, 2017, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trumps-lawyers-seek-to-undercut-muellers-russia-investigation/2017/07/20/232ebf2c-6d71-11e7-b9e2-2056e768a7e5_story.html; Jeff Stein, “The White House denies reports that Trump is looking into pardons,” Vox, July 23, 2017, https://www.vox.com/2017/7/23/16016704/white-house-trump-pardons
  3. [3]Rebecca Ballhaus, “Jared Kushner Details Russia Meetings, Denies Collusion,” Wall Street Journal, July 24, 2017, https://www.wsj.com/articles/jared-kushner-releases-details-on-previously-undisclosed-meeting-with-russian-ambassador-1500890433
  4. [4]Marc Parry, “Nancy MacLean Responds to Her Critics,” Chronicle of Higher Education, July 19, 2017, http://www.chronicle.com/article/Nancy-MacLean-Responds-to-Her/240699
  5. [5]George H. Nash, The Conservative Intellectual Movement in America Since 1945, 30th anniversary ed. (Wilmington, DE: Intercollegiate Studies Institute, 2006).
  6. [6]Daniel Stedman Jones, Masters of the Universe: Hayek, Friedman, and the Birth of Neoliberal Politics (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University, 2012).
  7. [7]Marc Parry, “A New History of the Right Has Become an Intellectual Flashpoint,” Chronicle of Higher Education, July 19, 2017, http://www.chronicle.com/article/A-New-History-of-the-Right-Has/240700
  8. [8]Nancy McLean, quoted in Marc Parry, “Nancy MacLean Responds to Her Critics,” Chronicle of Higher Education, July 19, 2017, http://www.chronicle.com/article/Nancy-MacLean-Responds-to-Her/240699
  9. [9]George H. Nash, The Conservative Intellectual Movement in America Since 1945, 30th anniversary ed. (Wilmington, DE: Intercollegiate Studies Institute, 2006).
  10. [10]Jeff Stein, “The White House denies reports that Trump is looking into pardons,” Vox, July 23, 2017, https://www.vox.com/2017/7/23/16016704/white-house-trump-pardons
  11. [11]Chris Collins, quoted in Katie Bo Williams, “Trump launches all-out assault on Mueller probe,” Hill, July 22, 2017, http://thehill.com/policy/national-security/343164-trump-launches-all-out-assault-on-mueller-probe
  12. [12]Carol D. Leonnig, Ashley Parker, Rosalind S. Helderman, and Tom Hamburger, “Trump team seeks to control, block Mueller’s Russia investigation,” Washington Post, July 20, 2017, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trumps-lawyers-seek-to-undercut-muellers-russia-investigation/2017/07/20/232ebf2c-6d71-11e7-b9e2-2056e768a7e5_story.html

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