A prominent left wing economist at the Roosevelt Institute equated the libertarian political movement to white supremacism in a Twitter discussion that quickly devolved into name calling.
Marshall Steinbaum, a Research Director and Fellow at the far-left Roosevelt Institute, made the remarks in part of a wider discussion about the potential usefulness of libertarian economists as “anti-Trump allies”, when Steinbaum declared he had no interest in “winning over” libertarians.
The situation escalated after a fellow left wing intellectual, E. Glen Weyl, respectfully bemoaned Steinbaum’s unwillingness to make inroads with and “win over” libertarians, saying his attitude “is responsible for so much of the self-defeating nature of today’s left.”
— (((E. Glen Weyl))) (@glenweyl) December 30, 2018
In reply, Steinbaum wrote that “If it is self-defeating to refuse to ally with white supremacy, then fine,” and cited contemporary opposition among to the New Deal among those who may have held libertarian beliefs, neglecting to mention that the policies comprised in the New Deal were legislated in the 1930s, and the Libertarian Party was not founded until 1971.
At this point, an incredulous Weyl asked Steinbaum to clarify whether or not he was “equating libertarianism with white supremacy.” Steinbaum replied in the affirmative, and cited various statements made by Libertarians.
Weyl then asked Steinbaum whether this type of blanket condemnation of libertarian would mean that prominent libertarians and self-proclaimed libertarians Tyler Crowen, Thomas Sowell, and Jeff Flake are part of the same political movement as Richard Spencer, who claims to have founded the Alt Right and helped organize the rally that led to the tragic events in Charlottesville, Virginia in 2017.
In his reply to Weyl and his final tweet on the subject, Steinbaum elaborated that libertarianism is merely a “flavor” of white supremacy, and that it is part of the umbrella group that creates the white supremacist “political movement”.
At this point, Weyl attempted to continue the debate, leading other left wing Twitter users to point out inconsistencies with Steinbaum’s thinking and chastised him hold himself to “a standard worthy of Roosevelt”.
What a silly, obviously absurd argument. Hold yourself to a standard worthy of Roosevelt and progressives.
— Zach Tratar (@zachtratar) December 31, 2018
I’m finding it alarming to see that over past 18 months it is many on the Left that are conveniently labeling people into categorical sects, which is to judge people as good or bad on a social level, yet unrealistically whole heartedly believing they are incapable of such.
— Rick Maroni (@rick_what) December 31, 2018
If you’re implying that self-determination is a white attribute and not a human attribute, it is likely people like you would also agree that the opposite is true about non-whites…..Maybe you shouldn’t play this game.
— JtheHornet (@JPHorn7) December 31, 2018
Ironically, the entire discussion was provoked by Weyl requesting that left wing economists refrain from speaking in jargon, make efforts not to alienate mainstream Americans, and find ways to relate complex economic theories to voters. Instead, Steinbaum condemned an entire political movement and school of economics as racist.
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