Libertarian comrades


Via Corey Robin:

In the wake of the Newtown killings, writers on the right have suggested we should teach children to turn on their assailants, rushing them en masse. Here’s Megan McArdle writing in The Daily Beast:

I’d also like us to encourage people to gang rush shooters, rather than following their instincts to hide; if we drilled it into young people that the correct thing to do is for everyone to instantly run at the guy with the gun, these sorts of mass shootings would be less deadly, because even a guy with a very powerful weapon can be brought down by 8-12 unarmed bodies piling on him at once.

McArdle is a libertarian. You know, the type who believes you can’t derive Rawlsian-style social justice from self-interested premises—that shit would never work—but that you can adduce from those very same premises a mass death instinct of the sort that powered the Red Army to victory against the Nazis. When it comes to public goods, libertarians think we’re all free riders; in the face of crazed killers, we’re all comrades.

20 responses to “Libertarian comrades

  1. Oh spare me. Literally. These folks are such idiots.


  2. I’ve got to sort of agree with you on the lack of sense in such an idea. While it would work and IS the correct thing to do to minimize the threat from the attacker, it’s also one of the hardest things to train people to do! Even the military has poor success in doing so.

    Then again, it’s no more of a fantasy than any of the economic and social ones coming out of the Statist Left and a less deadly one in the long run.


    • Also, I suspect the libertarian principle of rational self-interest would incentivize parents to teach their children not to rush the shooter, but let everyone else join the rush, or at least keep to the back of the pack, spawning a sort of non-economic free rider problem.


  3. So who exactly is going to volunteer to lead the charge? Little Timmy the terrible?

    I think it would have to be the little kiddies outfitted with the bullet proof vests. There is such a thing, you know. A company in Bogota, Columbia makes them especially for the tiny tot crowd.

    Only a fool would consider this a viable option.


    • Indeed, and Moe also posted on the Colombian company; they appear to be quite up-and-coming.


    • JR – I think it would go a bit like war. You know, send the ‘less valuable’ kids ahead to be the cannon fodder.


      • Now you’re thinking like a real libertarian, Moe!


      • You’re way, way, way outdated, Moe. By and large, we don’t fight wars like that anymore. Pretty much everyone – Chinese possibly excepted but they haven’t been tested – has realized that soldiers aren’t best used as cannon fodder, not even the “less valuable” ones because even the “least” of them is more valuable and harder and slower to replace than equipment.


  4. Orhan, terrific post and a perfect illustration of failed logic. The proposal from McArdle is bizarre in the extreme – but from her that’s not particularly surprising.


    • The logic truly is bizarre, and the notion of turning America into a nation of Fedaykin death commandos from Dune-in the name of preserving individual freedom–is typical of the mental gymnastics libertarians can put themselves through in order to maintain the purity of their system.


      • More like the Celtic and Germanic warriors of old, ojmo. The Fedaykin – a corruption of the Arabic Fedayeen we’re not much for individualism. I suppose, if we wanted to keep it within Dune, the idea would be closer to the Sardaukar.


        • Yeah, I thought of the Sardaukar at first, but didn’t think the analogy held because they were originally criminals. And now that you mention it, the Fedaykin is not so good either. Maybe the best analogy is the Fremen themselves–when a creche (I think that’s the word; a Fremen stronghold) was attacked, everybody–men, women, children–would go into defense mode and savagely fight off the attackers, or die trying. Anyway, that’s the idea I was going for.


  5. I wonder if this guys mentality is one that most Libertarians espouse? I think one of the problems in labelling certain obvious nutjobs is that there are many in every party, including Democrats. Like feminism they arent all monoliths. 😉


  6. I read the whole post, and for better or worse I like Megan, but she taken a lot of grief over this. I think it’s unjustified

    I read it thusly. Irrespective of what policy response come from Sandy Hook, which I still think might be none in the end: what could you do if you found yourself facing a well armed mass shooter?

    I hope to never have to find out, but honestly, her suggestion seems logical as I could think of for a largely unarmed group in this kind of situation. In practice, I don’t think people will do it, but maybe they should try.

    Sad as it is too say, whatever we do (more guns, less guns, guards, more mental health services, etc), I think these kinds of incidents will not stop. At best we might make them less frequent. I don’t think a suggestion on what would you do if the worst happened is so stupid. What would be the reaction if Paul Krugman wrote the same thing.

    I don’t think mobbing was being suggested as better than no shootings, but just accepting you could be in this situation, and what could you do as an act of desparation.


    • I also read her whole post, as well as Robin’s. And Robin’s post was not about solutions to the lone mass shooter problem, it was to point out the contradiction in McArdle’s peculiar expression of libertarian philosophy. Libertarian premises begin with individual self-interest, and from them conclude that government programs to mitigate the worst social outcomes of laissez-faire capitalism must fail. Yet from those same premises McArdle–when it’s convenient–can exhort the kind of self-sacrificial group action required to gang rush a mass shooter, and conclude its propriety. So whatever grief McArdle has taken over her post was certainly well deserved.


  7. Nor do I think the suggestion was directed at children.


    • I’m not sure what other kinds of “young people” McArdle wants us to drill her counter-instinctual “correct thing” into, especially in the context of a school shooting…


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