This is the sort of entry where you kinda have to know the players for it to make any sense, but whatever…

I used to read Ann Althouse regularly; as in, queued up in my RSS reader. I may have even had her on my blogroll at one time. She is a good blogger, really, and I often wished I had more time to read some of her entries. She’s pretty prolific. Takes really good photos too.

But c’mon, people. Did anyone really think she was anywhere near "libertarian" at a principled level? She’s a Reynolds clone. That is, her entire life has been invested in the legal profession, and just as with Reynolds, "libertarian" means something along the lines of "Efficient Minds and Efficient Markets (through Efficient Law)," if you catch the reference to the Reason tagline, though Reason certainly has that very same problem, and often.

I just can’t believe anyone finds this the least bit surprising. Virginia Postrel notes:

"Althouse was clearly out of her intellectual depth during the discussions…"

Uh, no shit??? Have you guys even read her blog for any length of time? Can you point to any post of hers, ever, where she elucidated an individualist or purely libertarian view with reference to freedom and liberty, as opposed to a more logical legal scheme? I dunno, I haven’t read her with any regularity in a long time, but I’d certainly be surprised to be pointed to anything that would even come close to my own standards.

Hell, if I want to read a conservative blog, I’ve got Kim du Toit and if I want to read pragmatic, consequentialist libertarianism, I’ve got Hit & Run. I’m certainly not getting any special insight on either front from Althouse that I’m not getting there, and certainly never any sense that she has the slightest clue as to what a moral principle is and how it would apply to politics.

Update: Althouse has posted a reply to Ron Bailey’s post linked above. You can read it, if you like, but when I see something like this…

"I came away surprised that some people, especially the libertarians,
were hardcore, true believers, wedded to an abstract version of idea
and unwilling to look at how it played out in the real world."

…such person has just disqualified themselves from any discussion or comment that would take place at my level. Hey, Ann? How about a principled opposition to racism, which apparently was your whole bugaboo, here? Are you "hardcore?" A "true believer?" "Wedded" to it? Can such principled opposition exist as an "abstract?" (note to readers: "abstract version of idea" is redundant, superfluous, and betrays an ignorance of what ideas really are.). Are you willing to be principally opposed to racism without having to "look at how it played out in the real world?"

Althouse is smart. Very smart. It just goes to show you how that’s not nearly enough.

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  1. Matt on December 30, 2006 at 12:24

    That phrase "in the real world" kills me. So many people toss it around as if the real world were somehow separate from ideas and principles.

  2. John Lopez on December 30, 2006 at 13:32

    "Althouse is smart. Very smart. It just goes to show you how that's not nearly enough."

    It's all about incentives, and Althouse is a hundred-percenter. The only thing she gets from her blogging is an ego boost, and it isn't like you get more praise the farther out you go on the fringe.

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