As longtime readers remember, I reviewed Robert Reich’s Saving Capitalism. While I was never an especially big fan of Robert Reich – he comes across as a prissy liberal – he nevertheless struck me as a serious economist. His work even motivated me to more deeply explore economics from a political economy standpoint. You could say Reich was a gateway drug that led to Michael Hudson and Dean Baker.
Therefore, I was understandably bewildered when Reich – in response to the anti-Milo riot at UC Berkeley – promulgated an outlandish conspiracy theory, which situates Milo as the diabolical architect of the mayhem. His reasoning is that Breitbart, prior to Milo’s visit, intended to call for the withdrawal of federal funds from Berkeley if Milo was impeded. Sure enough, following the riot, Trump attacked Berkeley on Twitter, hinting that its failure to safeguard free speech could imperil its access to federal funds. What a convenient coincidence!
Unfortunately, there’s one problem with Reich’s theory: it’s complete nonsense. As noted by law professor Paul Cassell in the Washington Post, it would take tremendous skill and guts for Milo to organize a riot in a hostile leftist stronghold such as Berkeley. Perhaps Milo is an evil genius who can adeptly coordinate mob violence, and somehow not have any his shock troopers spill the beans. But I’d say the Cleveland Browns have a better chance of winning the Super Bowl than Reich being vindicated.
Needless to say, the much more simple and likely explanation is that leftist hooligans in a city such as Berkeley are in fact leftist hooligans. For all of his wonkish logic, Reich seems unable to put 2 and 2 together. Like many liberals, Trump’s election has made him unhinged, and his critical faculties have increasingly devolved.
I think it’s vital to highlight such illogic, because it undermines liberals’ contention that they represent the intelligent and logical crowd; that they’re the only adults in the room. Their main claim to legitimacy rests on this notion that they’re governed by reason and facts, and they spent years deriding conservatives as “wingnuts” – uneducated, delusional fanatics prone to indulging in outlandish conspiracy theories.
However, as Reich’s sad descent into partisan paranoia lays bare, liberals aren’t nearly as rational and insightful as they contend. And Reich is just the tip of the iceberg. Just observe Kurt Eichenwald’s meltdown , Amanda Marcotte’s claim that Jill Stein supporters are secret sexists, or the Russia hysteria consuming mainstream liberals. Those who mocked conservatives for believing that Barack Obama is a secret Muslim socialist now exhibit similar derangement.
If nothing else good comes out of Trump’s presidency, at least we now know that liberals are wingnuts in their own right. Now excuse me while I go collect my check from Vladimir Putin.