George Reisman is an idiot

April 26, 2007

Or maybe a liar. Most likely he is merely a knee-jerk dogmatic conservative who likes to wallow in confirmation bias. He is a self-admitted Randian, after all.

Normally he makes cogent argument on economics. When he ventures beyond that, however, he really shows his shocking lack of critical thought, bordering on herd-following, non-thinking collectivism.

Take this bit of tripe, for instance. In it, Reisman basically ignores the science on Global Warming and stampedes directly into near paranoid fantasy, so unfounded that if you were to say it out loud to someone, they may seriously consider having you committed. His entire argument for conspiracy rests on this quote from Maurice Strong, founder of various UN eco-summits and a fairly heavy hitter in Canadian politics, from 1992:

“Isn’t the only hope for the planet that the industrialized civilizations collapse? Isn’t it our responsibility to bring [that] about?”

He attributes this quote to The Politically Incorrect Guide to Global Warming and Environmentalism (Washington, D. C.: Regnery Publishing, Inc., 2007), p. 6. Yes, quite an unbiased source there.

Admittedly, that looks like a pretty damning quote. When I first read it, I was shocked. Of course, I don’t believe everything I’m told or read, so I did a little digging. Turns out, this is the real quote:

What if a small group of world leaders were to conclude that the principal risk to the Earth comes from the actions of rich countries? And if the world is to survive, those rich countries would have to sign an agreement reducing their impact on the environment. Will they do it? The groups conclusion is “no.” The rich countries won’t do it. They won’t change. So, in order to save the planet, the group decides: Isn’t the only hope for the planet that the industrialized civilizations collapse? Isn’t it our responsibility to bring that about? This group of world leaders forms a secret society to bring about an economic collapse. “[emphasis mine]

That makes it a bit different, no? Seems he was talking about hypothetical eco-terrorists. Seems further that Strong was making the remarks about an idea he had for a novel, a novel whose plot (as described above) that seemed to parallel Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged. You would think that Reisman, being a Randroid, would have noticed? Ah, the irony.

In other words, the quote is not about the UN’s or any other groups wishes or plans, it is a discussion of a hypothetical, fictional situation. Any attempt to imply from this quote that the UN or any other environmental group’s “real agenda” is to destroy civilization and return humankind to a pre-industrial society is not just false, its a bold faced lie.

So why did Reisamn make it?

Well, it is possible that he didn’t know the full context of the quote. I mean it took me a whole 5 minutes to find it on Google (its the 2nd link in the list of 279 000 hits) . I suppose that while it takes a while to type a blog post and transcribe a quote from a book that is not online, that extra 5 minutes to actually do research to confirm the facts and premises is just too much to ask a University Professor.

Perhaps he couldn’t be bothered because it happened to fit with his ideological world view. I mean he is a Randian and thus anything a private business does is by definition good because private business does it, and every thing the government does is bad by definition because the government does it. So when a pseudo-government official is quoted saying something juicy like that, there is no critical thought needed, since a priori is it bad and therefore must be true. Down on the farm, we call that “confirmation bias.”

Or maybe he knew all along the full context and decided to selectively use the quote to imply Strong, and by extension the environmental movement and the UN, hold a position and have a hidden agenda which they do not, in fact, hold. That would be intellectual dishonesty and propagandizing – lying by any other name. All so he can remain convinced that this whole Global Warming thing isn’t real and is some “socialist plot” to send us into living in caves. That, without evidence to back it up, is delusional.

Don’t for a second think I’m siding with the statist position on this. While I accept the reality of anthropogenic global warming, based on the overwhelming scientific evidence, I don’t accept the solution is more state regulation and interference. As I have stated earlier, the state is actually one of the problems when it comes to global warming and pollution, not the solution. As a market anarchist, it think the market in the total absence of the state is the only good way to deal with the problem (as Rothbard himself pointed out in Law Property Rights and Air Pollution).

That being said, I cannot abide by dogmatism, intellectual dishonesty and lying to “help” our cause, whether it is by a slack-jawed blogger from Horsefly, Texas or one of the icons of the libertarian movement.

If Reisman thinks global warming is baloney, he ought to get some scientific backing and refute the evidence for global warming that has been presented and accepted by the scientific community. If he really thinks there is some vast UN-led conspiracy to cause the collapse of Western civilization and move us all back to pre-industrial society, he is going to need more evidence than a 15-year-old quote taken out of context and purposely spun to mean something it never meant. In other words actual evidence, or he will sound like a mouth-breathing, paranoid conspiracy theorist.

Unless that is what he really is.

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9 Responses to “George Reisman is an idiot”


  1. Well, thanks for showing your true colors.

  2. theconverted Says:

    True colours? What, by insisting that even people like Reisman not stoop to the tatics of the Republican party an make stuff up to try “proive” his allegations? By using critical thought rather than dogmatic no-mind thinking? By agreeing with Rothbard on the solution?

    You bet those are my “true colours”. Question is, why aren’t they yours?

  3. watching_you22 Says:

    Thanks for speaking some sense. I must say, knowing Strong and having known the context of the statement in question I had been tempted previously to respond to the innumerable right wing nutjob bloggers who continue to deliberately misquote it as their “smoking gun” of some kind of vast global socialist conspiracy to take over the world in the name of leftist elites. Problem is, it is not limited to the nutjobs – people who really should know better also resort to the same completely dishonest tactics. Then again, maybe that isn’t such a bad thing as it is and indication of just how shallow and defenceless their position actually is….


  4. In case you haven’t noticed, there is a link to my website. Click on “Articles on line in English”, and you’ll find out what my true colors are.

    I am struck by the fact that there is no essential difference between Reisman’s abbrieviated quote from Strong and the longer quote you give. But you say that the idea is fictional, an idea for a novel. Fine. I’ll accept that argument for what it’s worth. But there is damn little difference between this and what is actually going on in the world.

  5. theconverted Says:

    “I am struck by the fact that there is no essential difference between Reisman’s abbrieviated quote from Strong and the longer quote you give. ”

    No essential difference?

    Well except for the fact that the shorter quote is used by Reisman (and others) to imply an active, nefarious socialist conspiracy to destroy western ecomomies to return the earth to a primitive state and that Strong was describing a real plan and attitude at the UN, when in fact the longer quote is clear that he was describing a hypothetical, fictional plot and storyline.

    Reisman is claiming that something that is fictional is real. That is a very essential difference. He is, therefore, either stupid, willfully ignorant or lying.

    So, if I can find a quote of Reisman describing the plot of Atlas Shrugged, can I make the claim that there is a real plot of corporations and industrialist to destroy the ecomomy for their benefit?

    Of course not. And niether can Reisman.

    The real battle over Global Warming ought not be whether its real or not (because the science is pretty clear), but whether the way to deal with it, regardless if it is a man-made phenomenon or not, is through more statist regulations and interference in our lives, or by getting the state out (since state action is the primary cause in the first place).

    I’m pretty sure that sounding like wild-eyed conspiracy theorist will not help our cause or credibility. Shit, all Reisman had to do was mention the Illuminati or the Bilderberg Group and the story would have been complete.


  6. >from statist to anarchist in one easy step

    Statism and anarchism are even closer than one easy step.
    They are both on the same step of irrationalism. Statism requires the sacrifice of one’s mind to the state. Anarchism requires the sacrifice of one’s mind to emotion. Capitalism,
    on the other hand, is the state’s protection of the individual’s mind as expressed in action.

    > Most likely he [Reisman] is merely a knee-jerk dogmatic conservative…a self-admitted Randian

    Definition by non-essentials. Conservatism is based on faith and tradition while Objectivism is based on reason. And since faith cannot produce material values, it cannot possibly result in capitalism or, indeed, any economic system. Tradition limits economic activity to tribal custom. Further, conservatives have never been ideological advocates of capitalism. They’ve Pragmatically compromised w/socialism since, at least, supporting the 1890 Sherman Antitrust Act. Pres. Bush has greatly increased social spending. He has, I believe, both added and ended various govt economic regs, ie, he’s not a principled capitalist. Two influential, recent versions of conservatism, are explicit rejections of capitalism. Compassionate conservatism is an acceptance of the welfare state. Neoconservatism is an explicit acceptance of the altruist/collectivist base of the welfare state. Objectivism is a radical, ideological alternative to all this. There is no principled difference between conservatism and liberalism. Conservatism has a _slightly_ larger acceptance of a profoundly compromised capitalism than liberalism.

    > the reality of anthropogenic global warming, based on the overwhelming scientific evidence

    There is no clear evidence of any warming, natural or man-made. Objectivity, not consensus, is the basis of science.
    Without advocating economic determinism, govt and environmentalist funding of climate science has been corrupting. _Nature_ and _Science_ have been accused by scientists of rejecting anti-GW papers. The anti-industrial view by radical environmentalists is corrupting. Anti-industrialism results from the nihilism and subjectivism of modern culture and predates environmentalism. Some claim global cooling is a threat. Some claim recent cooling. Some claim sun energy cycles alternately block and let pass cosmic rays to produce climate cycles. Some claim the oceans as the main cause of climate cycles. Industry could not have caused the warm periods of medieval, Viking colonies on Iceland and Greenland and also during some part of the Roman Empire which made malarial swamps around Rome a danger until they were filled in. Since the unusual cold around the time of George Washington’s attack accross the Delaware River, there has been warming. Climatology is presently gathering its materials for a future science from physics, chemistry, geology, astrophysiscs, etc. There are, currently, no Laws of Climate which explain long-range climate action. Further, climate is local. If you dont like yours, move, as many do in settling in sub-tropical, south Florida.

  7. Phil Kammer Says:

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    Peace brother…


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  9. wypadek drogowy Says:

    Das war wie ein hilfreicher Artikel! Ich bin gerade erst mit meinem Blog und ich hoffe, es wird so gut wie Ihre. Grüße!


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