Tracing consequences both seen and unseen.
Wirkman VirkkalaAnatomy of a Character Assassination
Posted at 10:40 pm on October 4, 2010, by Wirkman Virkkala

A writer named Mark Ames has written a profile of a man named Will Wilkinson. He titled it “Anatomy of a Libertard,” and it is very nasty.

I encourage you to read it not because it is in any way exemplary or honest or commendable. Instead, it is a great example of base rhetoric and unthinking partisanship. There’s so much hypocrisy and double standard, in evidence — and behind that a vast reservoir of thoughtless hate — that it almost boggles the mind.

Indeed, it contains no real argumentation. The business about income inequality, allegedly at the heart of the piece, is all invective and ridicule on Ames’s part. He simply mocks Wilkinson and lets it go at that.

Now, I am not a friend of Will Wilkinson, and I defend him not because of any connection that I know about, but simply on the grounds of decency and some sympathy. I haven’t exactly been following his career. From the few episodes that he participated in, and that I watched, he struck me as an intelligent person who loves liberty but fails to follow any else’s plumbline. So perhaps I identify with him in that sense. I, too, love liberty, hate coercion; I oppose bullies, thieves, and vindictive advocates of mass imprisonment or regimentation, whether such lockstep marching orders hail from the lightning left or the thunderous right.

That is, I’m a libertarian.

But I have an independent streak, and keep on finding new avenues of thought to explore. Wilkinson seems of similar cast. I vaguely recall his interest in evolutionary psychology.

Ames insinuates that libertarians argue what they do and believe what they do because some billionaires have poured money into a bunch of libertarian institutions, one of which is Cato Institute (wrongly identified by Ames as “the first libertarian think tank”). He gives us no reason to believe this. In fact, he gives us reason not to believe that. Wilkinson, he chortles, was fired from Cato (he says) for not being on the Tea Party bandwagon, which the Kochs also fund.

I don’t know if that’s true, half-true, or just a large hair ball of falsity. But I do know that you cannot call Wilkinson the Kochs’ “whore” (as Ames does, with that very word) and then deride him for being unemployed for an ideological stance which offended some Mr. Moneybags’s other commitments.

Note to Ames: Being paid to do something you love is not tantamount to whoredom. Indeed, I assume that many people on the left (who love complaining about rich people’s spending habits . . . or very existence) get paid out of funds donated by (shock of all shocks) rich people. Indeed, I know that this is precisely the case with nearly every major “liberal” and leftier journal extant.

Pot, see the kettle? It, too, steams up over heat. And it, too, sheds little light.

Filed under: Rhetoric
Comments: 4 Comments


  1. I also read Ames piece, interested in an intelligent counterpoint to libertarianism generally and WW’s income inequality piece specifically, but came away thinking that Ames had not actually said anything of substance. He merely called wilkinson names.
    I’m glad someone else sees it the same way.

    Comment by MattW — 2010-10-05 @ 5:54 am

  2. […] to The Lesson Applied. Social […]

    Pingback by Mark Ames: Asshat :The Thinker — 2010-10-13 @ 7:30 am

  3. I stopped seriously reading after this: “That is, Im a libertarian”

    “I don’t know if that’s true, half-true, or just a large hair ball of falsity. But I do know…..” you sound like glenn “I dont know I just ask questions” beck.

    I hope the average american doesnt think like you…I take it you dont symphatize with the Occupy Movement.

    Comment by mexican from mexico — 2012-02-20 @ 8:44 am

  4. […] HT to The Lesson Applied. […]

    Pingback by Mark Ames: Asshat | The Thinker — 2012-03-01 @ 9:09 am

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Henry Hazlitt"[T]he whole of economics can be reduced to a single lesson, and that lesson can be reduced to a single sentence. The art of economics consists in looking not merely at the immediate but at the longer effects of any act or policy; it consists in tracing the consequences of that policy not merely for one group but for all groups."
Henry Hazlitt, Economics in One Lesson






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