May 02, 2002

JONAH GOLDBERG wants to know

JONAH GOLDBERG wants to know why libertarian bloggers are ignoring Frank Fukuyama's piece in the Wall Street Journal.

Well, I can't speak for others, some of whom have taken on Fukuyama (see below). But I guess the reason I didn't respond is that I've never taken Fukuyama all that seriously. His most famous book, The End of History, seesawed between being embarrassingly obvious and obviously wrong, his Trust was just embarrassingly obvious, and his latest comments on biotechnology have seemed both naive and ill-informed.

But since Jonah asked: The Journal item is of a piece with his other comments, except that it's also intellectually dishonest. Even Bob Shrum has given up arguing that September 11 brought back an uncritical faith in Big Government: the Democrats tried that, it polled badly, and they quit. Now some of the big-government rightists are taking sloppy seconds on this bogus issue, and it looks even stupider.

September 11 brought back faith in Big Government? Like the INS -- which was issuing Mohammed Atta a visa extension months after September 11? Like the FAA, which recently turned around a U.S. Air flight full of suspicious Arab men who bought one-way tickets an hour after the plane took off? Like the cowardly Great Washington Bugout that took place in October's anthrax incidents?

I'd say the opposite. The reason polls show a majority of Americans supporting armed airline pilots is that they don't trust Big Government to protect them.

And as for Fukuyama's effort to tie this nonexistent trend to an enthusiasm for anti-cloning regulation and the like, well, that's a pathetic non sequitur. Back in Sixth Grade, my class used Layman Allen's Wff'n'Proof logic games, including one module called "The Propaganda Game." A non sequitur exactly like Fukuyama's was one of the standard moves there; we all learned to spot it pretty quickly. So I guess in ignoring his piece I was assuming that most people function at better than a sixth-grade level. Fukuyama, by writing his piece, apparently feels differently, which probably tells you all you need to know about his faith in individuals' ability to make their own choices. But enough of what I think about Fukuyama's work. Here's what blogger Stephen Green wrote about Fukuyama last night at 12:05 a.m. (I'm a parent, with Daddy hours, so he usually takes the first swing at this stuff when it appears at midnight):

Somehow, Fukuyama’s fear that parents might want to engineer their children to be smarter and better looking, has morphed into a fear of us breeding a race of Gamma sub-humans to work for sub-minimum wages in the DNA-polluted soap mines of West New Dakota.

If we do someday have the power to breed “lesser” people for backbreaking labor (today we call them “illegal immigrants’), only the government can deprive them of their liberty. The Constitution is pretty clear that everyone breathing here gets his USRDA of the Bill of Rights, no matter what his wife says. If Alpha Individuals or Evil Corporations, or, hell, Senator Palpatine attempted to enslave their clone armies, they’d face the biggest stack of criminal and civil charges since OJ and Baretta killed their transgender hooker boyfriends in a suicide-pact bombing plot to start a race war in LA.

Then the rest of us would have to put up with thousands of tiny, griping, clone ex-soap miners, all suffering from bubblelung, sitting on piles of punitive damages and trying to get their 15 minutes on O’Reilly. Without government intervention, there can be no loss of rights, no evil profits, and no motive to breed mutant Gamma workers to iron my shorts. Damn.

So lighten up, Francis.

And blogger John Tabin writes:
He plays so fast and loose with his rhetoric, setting up straw men and resorting to the always unconvincing slippery-slope argument, that it's hard to know exactly how he does it, but he seems to roll research with embyros, research with cloned embryos, reproductive cloning, genetic engineering, and Hitlerian eugenics into one big ball. Apparantly, we shouldn't attempt to cure cancer, because someone might some time in the future change his child's eye color.
Follow these links -- each post is longer than this one.

Fukuyama is not a serious person. But I suppose that's no reason to ignore him. After all, bloggers do pay attention to Cornel West and Noam Chomsky -- whom Fukuyama, with his intellectual sloppiness and rash pronouncements, is coming to resemble.