12/14/15

Tyler Cowen, you're talking out of your ass

12/14/15
Read this:
3. There are the libertarians, who hate martial culture on the international scene, but who wish to allow it or maybe even encourage it (personally, not through the government) at home, through the medium of guns.  They are inconsistent, and they should consider being more pro-gun control than is currently the case.  But I don’t expect them to budge: they will see this issue only through the lens of liberty, rather than through the lens of culture as well.  They end up getting a lot of the gun liberties they wish to keep, but losing the broader cultural battle and somehow are perpetually surprised by this mix of outcomes.
Okay. There are so many assumptions and loaded concepts here and in the rest of his blog post, that if he unpacked it so as to minimize the risk of significantly different inputs--and therefore outcomes--from his many different readers, it would be dozens of pages long, if not more. Such is the semiotic nightmare of politics, but it should be avoided, even, I daresay, in extemporaneous and pithy blog posts.
This image sort of works. Can't find who to credit however.

Cowen is generalizing of course, but still, it's god damn lazy to throw around the term "culture" and "martial culture" only to mix it in with broad categories of political philosophies and movements and end up with 2+2=everybody's stupid.

Maybe it's not the point. Maybe there is enough truthiness to his argument to where it has value when considering future foreign and domestic policy. I mean, it rings true, kind of, but only because you or I agree with the implied stereotypes and our input into those loaded words and phrases closely resembles Cowen's meaning.

But what the fuck is "martial culture"? What the fuck is "martial culture on the international scene"? What the fuck is "the lens of culture"?

I identify with libertarians and consider myself to be one. But I could be wrong. It could be that most competently self-labeled libertarians would not label me such. I'm no anarchist. I'm not even really much of a minarchist if you want to quibble over the size of the state, or semantics, but I do favor a push in that direction... much smaller government and fewer, less cumbersome regulations. But that doesn't mean I don't want a powerful military. Or an "active foreign policy" whatever the fuck that means. Maybe that makes me a cardinal sinner of inconsistency. I'll see you in hell, pro-gay marriage, anti-drug war progressive nannystaters.

When I read words I try to avoid applying the simplest most idiotic meanings to and assumptions behind them. So when I read "active foreign policy" I think, well it could mean having diplomats all over the world, engaging with various other foreign officials, for whatever purpose, peaceful or otherwise.

When I read "active foreign policy" I don't think "GEORGE BUSH JINGOISTIC NEOCON INTERVENTIONIST IRAQ WAR FOR OIL JACKBOOTED RACIST IMPERIALISTIC FASCIST" nor do I read "martial culture" as "YEAH LETS BLOW SHIT UP! SEND OUR ENEMIES TO THE STONE AGE! TANKS AND FIGHTER JETS AND MACHINE GUNS WHOO 'MURICA!"

And then the politics are all wrong. Day-to-day politics doesn't mean anything, other than partisan hackery for the most part. Conservatives are winning Cowen says, because Obama wants to get all interventiony on Libya and Syria's asses. Obama must be a conservative and conservatives must like what Obama's doing overseas then, right? No that makes no sense. So lets ramp the complexity up to infinity by throwing in martial culture bullshit and tie it into relevant news by implying guns=martial culture.

For libertarians, Cowen is asserting that we can't have our cake and eat it too. With guns, comes jingoistic international militaristic adventurism (maybe imperialistic too?), or "martial culture" for short. Guns must be pretty powerful, so much so that they're indivisibly part and parcel of "martial culture" and perhaps only that culture. Can't get rid of one with out getting rid of the other. Which is utter crap.

Broadly or narrowly defined, culture is not a rigid, unmalleable artifact of humanity. Want proof? Try defining "American culture". Have fun and good luck. Even if Cowen is right, we can still have our cake and eat it too, even if that means we have to culturally appropriate and/or excise a few things.

I can look through the blurry cultural lens while still clinging to my guns and liberty. It's not hard; you should try it sometime Mr. Cowen.

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