26 Comments
Apr 2·edited Apr 2Liked by Walt Bismarck

I've always had a nuanced position on abortion that would piss off both the hard left and right: Roe v Wade was wrongly decided, that the issue should be solved through federalism via state to state elections, and that the way to go was by having open access to abortion in the first trimester and much stricter scrutiny later on. This is basically what almost all countries in Europe do. I try to empathize with the pro-life people... they see abortion at three months the same way I'd see abortion at nine months. And, look, having spent a few years in Brazil (that ostensibly bans abortion), I had a few friends that had they ahem been conceived in the US, likely wouldn't have made it to term. But where do you draw the line? The morning after pill? Using contraception or protection? Communist Romania trying to get people to have more kids through massive repression? Let alone that the people most able to evade the ban would do it, leaving you with the people you least want having kids having even more.

If I remember correctly, over 90% of abortions in the US are first trimester. So this is definately a case of the dog catching the car too quickly and something that could trip up the election and backfire.

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Another excellent take, and I'm glad to see someone else who won't ignore their moral intuitions. I'd far prefer programs which try to make it easier for women to discover that they're pregnant early so that they can make that decision at a time that's less morally objectionable. I honestly don't know though how a woman doesn't figure that out after a month if she's been having periods since the onset of puberty; as a man, even I thought missing a period was cause to go to see an OBGYN.

Also I wanted to justify your placing of some of the blame on conservatives for the baby murders that will result. Just as we would blame someone who imposed rent control for subsequent housing shortages, we can also blame conservatives for the unintended consequences of their actions such as babies getting killed — even including drug war issues, which are similar in nature to prohibition era issues.

I've been noticing this trend where conservatives let things go bad by just minding their own business and ceding ground within elite institutions, and then they get angry and impose their wishes in an authoritative manner because they don't want to do the work to actually fix things. This of course turns people away because of psychological reactance, despite most people being willing to be authoritarian about the things they care about. Then the culture changes on account of this, and the conservatives of today become the liberals of yesterday.

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>I've been noticing this trend where conservatives let things go bad by just minding their own business and ceding ground within elite institutions, and then they get angry and impose their wishes in an authoritative manner because they don't want to do the work to actually fix things. This of course turns people away because of psychological reactance, despite most people being willing to be authoritarian about the things they care about. Then the culture changes on account of this, and the conservatives of today become the liberals of yesterday.<

This is an inherent flaw of "democracy." Conservatives are largely productive (or at least just normal, non-activist) people who are interested primarily in actually living their own lives as opposed to waging pseudo-religious ideological crusades. This is the correct thing that everyone should be doing in a well-functioning society. However, in "our democracy," it also means that dysfunctional losers who have nothing better to do than screech about politics end up having an outsized influence.

I don't know that there is any easy or obvious solution to this, but my point is that in a healthy society, you would obviously want it to be the case that the average person feels no need to center their whole life around politics and trying to "gain power within elite institutions" and the like. Conservatives might not be successful at creating that situation, but their instinct in trying to do so is correct.

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>This is the correct thing that everyone should be doing in a well-functioning society.<

As a libertarian, I wholeheartedly agree. People get annoyed with libertarians because they basically see us as fiscally conservative and socially liberal, but when studied more deeply, it's a fundamentally anti-political worldview. This I think is appropriate because politics seems to ruin everything it touches, inducing the deterioration of healthy social customs because they atrophy from lack of use.

>I don't know that there is any easy or obvious solution to this<

Well to me the obvious solution is a libertarian order, preferably something ancap or at least minarchist, but what becomes hard about that is suppressing most people's innate desire to control the world around them (even for good reasons) through coercion. Group psychology and the mentality of "the ends justify the means" have historically gotten people into a great deal of trouble, but unfortunately we're stuck with them. And public choice theory has provided compelling arguments for why it's predominantly the worst and most demagogic amongst us who end up in positions of state power. I respect conservative's sense to just keep their own affairs in order, but because they end up reacting whenever things get too far gone, they end up expanding state power — which will just be used to cudgel them further in the future.

If you haven't already, it's worth reading Hoppe's "Democracy: The God That Failed" and Caplan's "The Myth of the Rational Voter."

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>Well to me the obvious solution is a libertarian order, preferably something ancap or at least minarchist, but what becomes hard about that is suppressing most people's innate desire to control the world around them (even for good reasons) through coercion.<

Yes, the solution might seem obvious in theory. Put some group or class of people in charge who will implement and maintain this "libertarian order." But how do we get from Point A (slowly decaying "social democracy") to Point B? That's why I say there's no easy solution. If it were easy, presumably libertarians would've won a long time ago. Instead, libertarian ideology remains irrelevant, and people who call themselves "libertarians" are hilariously ineffectual.

One big, possibly insurmountable problem is the inherent contradiction between the ends of libertarian ideology and the means of how you could actually get there. Creating an ideal libertarian state would require people in charge who are very willing to use absolute and crushing state power against people who dissent from libertarian ideals. Unsurprisingly, most people who pick up the label "libertarian" aren't very keen on doing this. Libertarians are usually loathe to even work for the government in any capacity, much less run it or wield it as a weapon, even though that should absolutely be their #1 pursuit if they wanted their project to ever go anywhere.

Oh and, in case you couldn't tell, I'm no big fan of "democracy," and I think an ideal libertarian society would obviously do away with the concept.

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Yeah, it is unfortunate how ineffectual libertarians tend to be. That's why I'm really excited to see what will come of Milei's Argentina. He took steps that some would consider to be un-libertarian such as threatening to cut benefits for those blocking public roads, which to me is completely permissible since no one should be getting public benefits and because the roads are "owned" by the government, but I know that he has the right vision for what the end point should look like. Unfortunately he has many opponents who were beneficiaries of state largess, and they are still democratic in nature, so he can only make changes so quickly. He's aiming to make the country more attractive to investment and business, after which things will improve quickly. It just comes down to how quickly that will happen.

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Conservatives, libertarians and the like seem perpetually unable to understand politics as war by other means, which means implementing and adhering to the friend/enemy distinction. A proper libertarian would know to suspend any pretense of libertarianism when it comes to punishing enemies, i.e. those who threaten a libertarian order.

We all understand this intuitively when it comes to violence--violence against criminals, by police (the state), in the name of maintaining general public order. It makes perfect sense and it works when it is implemented with conviction. Somehow we've got to expand that understanding into the political sphere more broadly. This may mean largely doing away with the current understanding of things like free speech.

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Well I basically agree with you. Hoppe has written about "physical removal" which entails not interacting with or being unpleasant towards undesirables to get them to physically remove themselves from your community. This would be in the interest of creating and maintaining intentional communities organized around particular goals (e.g., family values, innovation, hedonism, religion, etc.). Before you have such a community, using the state to push back on things which are anti-libertarian (i.e., socialism in all its manifestations) while reducing its purview should be the goal. So if Milei were to crack down on the unions, I would generally support that.

I think you're also right to describe politics as war by other means. Since there seems to be a human hunger for competition and aggression, in part to give cooperation and intimacy greater significance, my goal would be to leverage those instincts for non-coercive ends (i.e., the market). It could actually be quite cool to have war games increase in prevalence in the future as recreation; it would just be an expansion upon the sports we have today, but I'd like to see it normalized throughout the lifetime instead of concentrated in the pre-work years.

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founding

Your rate of productivity is astounding.

In addition to what you note, other countries have liberalized abortion laws in response to Dobbs and the aftermath. France recently constitutionally enshrined it, and Macron as well as the Spanish PM tweeted their concerns about the decision. RBG said that Roe imposing abortion legalization nationwide in one fell swoop made the issue controversial and polarized. Dobbs seems to have had the same effect in the opposite direction (even beyond the US).

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author

The pro-life movement has killed more babies than thalidomide.

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Go back over a hundred years, and "abortion" before "quickening" (when you begin to feel the baby move) was not considered "abortion" and wasn't illegal or even frowned upon. People would refer to it as "bringing back the menses" or something like that. It was only an "abortion" and only illegal after quickening -- which, loosely, is after the baby starts to become viable or close to viable.

Go to a religious perspective; assume God exists. There are COUNTLESS herbs and essential oils which can induce miscarriage in the first trimester. God/Nature gave women abortifacients, natural ones.

Even the Bible refers to women using myrrh essential oil while, uh, engaged in or proposing sex acts where she clearly wouldn't want to become pregnant. Myrrh causes miscarriage and works as a contraceptive. (Also incredible at wound healing and clearing up infections!).

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You have several issues that you failed to address here, for starters, the vast majority of Americans were completely opposed to abortion in most circumstances prior to Roe. Roe caused a cultural shift where people started viewing abortion as acceptable. 2, the Framers of the 14th amendment specifically clarified that the equal protection clause of the 14A applies to all human beings including the unborn, so if the Supreme Court were being intellectually honest then abortion would be ruled Unconstitutional via the 14th Amendment. The other issue you have is the Supreme Court didn't choose a stance on abortion they merely sent it back to the States on the grounds that Roe was an Illegitimate ruling, states who have always vocally opposed abortion enacted the trigger laws that they have had in place since the 70s, that has nothing to do with the Pro Life Movement as that is completely above everyone's pay grade. One year after Dobbs it was determined that 30,000 abortions were blocked thanks to trigger laws, so if the pro life movement were killing babies you would have to square that circle.

It's not an easy topic but it basically comes down to this, if the SCOTUS were intellectually honest, there would be no abortion per the US Constitution and that's really where the conversation should start and end at

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>It's not an easy topic but it basically comes down to this, if the SCOTUS were intellectually honest, there would be no abortion per the US Constitution and that's really where the conversation should start and end at<

The conversation must center on who counts as a person and why. The reason this issue persists is that this question has not been settled. The pro-life position is the only one with a halfway coherent answer. Anti-lifers consistently fail to even acknowledge the question at all (both Walt and Hanania are guilty of this). It seems to me that this is probably because they understand that they don't have a good clean answer. But trying to browbeat pro-lifers with other talking points won't work if their core philosophy is never properly addressed.

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There really isn't a more consistent answer to that question than "a fertilized egg is a person" everything beyond that declaration is obfuscation and arbitrary. So I can see your point in this. It's a fundamental question of when does life begin, science says conception so then it gets turned into "well when should we start to care" which is already a goal post shift from the original question

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Yes, that's my analysis as well. And if that's the case, it leads me to believe that sooner or later there will be a shift in favor of a pro-life, from-conception sentiment, because it's the one that actually makes the most sense. It's notable that anti-lifers only want to talk about this issue from a very short-term "look at all these elections you just lost!" viewpoint. But as you correctly point out, in the very immediate short term, Roe was also very unpopular. And with the legacy media complex losing its capacity for narrative control, more and more people will eventually be exposed to the actual pro-life viewpoint over time.

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On your point about 30,000 being blocked, it matters for someone like Walt or me when in the pregnancy it was done. If, like the national statistics, the vast majority are in the first trimester, then we don't really think of those as babies intuitively. So even if you counted 2nd and 3rd trimester fetuses as babies, those would need to be balanced against the 2nd and 3rd trimester babies which would be aborted in the future due to the public's alarming increase in stomach for it because of their anger with conservatives.

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April 1st

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As a "pro-life maximalist" myself, I agree that Republicans fumbled the ball, that this was predictable, and that it could easily have been avoided. Republicans screwing things up is like water being wet, though. I'm not sure what good it does to just point and laugh at them. If the idea is to try and shame/mock pro-life people into giving up or changing their mind on the issue, that isn't going to work, for better or for worse.

I also wonder if people will still keep saying this should Donald Trump win in November. I don't think he will, but it would be interesting to see what the cope is from people who think abortion is the end of the GOP.

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my goal is to humiliate fundies who don't think long term and just try to achieve the maximally onerous restriction asap regardless of its expected longevity. People like that honestly deserve to be bullied mercilessly, no matter what their ideology, they just don't understand how politics works and they need to suffer emotional pain to learn the lesson.

I am totally fine being in a coalition with pro-life maximalists even if we part ways on end goal, but you need to take the John Roberts approach and actually build support for your views or it will lead to lots more babies being murdered even by MY definition

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"Fundies" probably don't read your blog and wouldn't take it very seriously if they did. You're not going to "humiliate" them, and even if you could, I don't think it would be a useful thing to do. If the topic has to be broached, it would be more useful to try and tell people how to politics better so that they aren't hurting their own cause.

It is hard, because the smart thing to do is do what the left does and just lie, for instance the schtick about how "we aren't coming for your guns, we just want totally reasonable, sane, common sense gun regulations to stop school shootings." And then every now and then a leftie will actually say the quiet part out loud, but for the most part, they're smart enough not to.

The issue with pro-life is that, because it is primarily (and unfortunately) a movement of religious people, they really just don't have that in them. They have to come right out and say what they want, it isn't in their nature to lie and play politics with some spiel about "no we just want totally reasonable sane common sense abortion regulations like the ones they have in hyper progressive Europe!"

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author

in that case we need to drop the pro-lifers from our coalition so we can save babies

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That isn't an option in a winner take all election system. Are you going to form some right wing anti-life third party?

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Also, I don't think abortion will matter much in november at all

Trump will probably win and half-heartedly support a 15 weeks bill that goes nowhere while half the country turns into ancient Carthage

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I personally like animals (at least my cats) more than humans but you are never going to get people to take the idea of "speceicism" seriously.

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