12 Feb 2011

Parsing Krugman’s Joke

Humor, Krugman 30 Comments

Usually I get Krugman’s jokes, but this one is unclear to me. I’ll just give the whole blog post:

Mike Konczal has a post about Ron Paul’s first hearing on monetary policy, in which he points out that the lead witness is a big Lincoln-hater and defender of the Southern secession.

And it’s true! I went to his articles at Mises, and clicked more or less idly on the piece about American health care fascialism — I guess that’s supposed to be a milder term than fascism, although he seems to equate the two. And sure enough, he ends:

This is not likely to happen in the United States, which at the moment seems hell-bent on descending into the abyss of socialism. Once some states begin seceding from the new American fascialistic state, however, there will be opportunities to restore healthcare freedom within them.

I presume that Amity Shlaes is already working on her Lincoln assessment, The Even More Forgotten Man.

I know Robert Wenzel has posited an elaborate shape shifter / CFR connection, but I’m not sure that’s it. I think it’s possible that it is a joke fired from the hip, with the general tie-in being right wing morons who write books about presidents that get other right-wing morons all fired up.

But I’m saying, even working within that analogy, I don’t get the joke. So can the resident Krugman apologists explain it please?

30 Responses to “Parsing Krugman’s Joke”

  1. Gene Callahan says:

    “And it’s true! I went to his articles at Mises…”

    I love that: “at Mises.” Perhaps at his grave, or at his spiritual center, or at…

  2. Gene Callahan says:

    But, I have to say, commenting on weird English, what the hell is DiLorenzo doing writing “fascialistic”? Now, one of my favorite thinkers, Eric Voegelin, would sometimes coin weird terms like this… but that would be backed by dozens or even hundreds of pages of theory showing why the new term was needed. Has DiLorenzo ever explained anywhere how “fascialistic” differs from “fascist”?

    • bobmurphy says:

      Has DiLorenzo ever explained anywhere how “fascialistic” differs from “fascist”?

      Gene I’m not sure how to respond to this. Do you mean, “I’ve checked the link to the article in question, and read the very first sentence where DiLorenzo starts to explain what he means by this term, but I’m not convinced.”

      Or, do you mean, “I didn’t even bother to read the first sentence of the link to the article. It was easier to say I know Eric Voegelin, he’s a friend of mine, and Tom DiLorenzo, you’re no Eric Vegelin.” ?

      • Gene Callahan says:

        Bob, there is no link to DiLorenzo in your post. If you, perhaps, had bothered to import Krugman’s links, I would have known I could have sought DiLorenzo’s explanation there.

        So did you mean, “I didn’t even bother to accurately import Krugman’s text. It’s easier to dump on my readers for not following links that aren’t there.”

  3. Daniel Kuehn says:

    Well I’m not a Krugman apologist, but I’m a guy that thinks Krugman is a good economist and is often shocked by how people misread him, and that ends up passing for “apologist” in many places 🙂

    I don’t know about right wing “moron”, but I think you’re on the right track. Amity Shlaes wrote a book that seemed strangely ideologically self-serving and left historians saying “are you serious Mrs. Shlaes??”, much like DiLorenzo (if he had the broad exposure that Shlaes did). Krugman is amazed at what DiLorenzo wrote, sees Lincoln/fascism arguments as a relatively new phenomenon, and wonders if Shlaes will pick that up next.

    I’m not sure it’s a joke so much as an expression of incredulity and a tie-in to another episode of incredulity over a history book.

  4. Bill Woolsey says:

    fascialism = fascism and socialism.

    It was explained the article to which Krugman linked.

    By the way, the point of the article was to smear the
    Republican Party with DiLorenzo.


    The real point about Shales is that criticism of Roosevelt is the same as advocating
    slavery. While I know criticism of Lincoln isn’t the same thing as advocating slavery,
    and maybe Krugman knows that as well, the implication was the point of the article.

    The point about monetary policy was that advocating a price level only policy (removing the high
    employment business from the Fed’s mandate) is just as crazy as advocating a
    gold standard.

    But advocating a gold standard is as crazy as advocating a return to slavery. Which obviously,
    is why a Republican Party seeking white votes in the south criticiizes the great emancipator.

    Funny? Well, only in the sense that you might laugh at how crazy those Republicans are.

    • Daniel Kuehn says:

      “The real point about Shales is that criticism of Roosevelt is the same as advocating slavery. While I know criticism of Lincoln isn’t the same thing as advocating slavery, and maybe Krugman knows that as well, the implication was the point of the article.”

      Bill – could you clarify where criticism Roosevelt = advocacy of slavery or criticism of Lincoln = advocacy of slavery? Perhaps I’m just dense but I seem to have missed both of those points. I don’t think Krugman ever accused DiLorenzo of advocating slavery, only of advocating secession. It just seems like quite a nasty thing to accuse him of.

      • bobmurphy says:

        Well you’re right DK, it is possible that the people who mock those who support secession, really just have a problem with the principles espoused in the Declaration of Independence. But we are being generous and assuming the reason they opposed Southern secession was the issue of slavery. If you want to say, “No, it could just be that they are against self-determination,” I won’t object.

        • Daniel Kuehn says:

          That seems like an odd conclusion to draw, bob.

          Certainly its possible to conclude that the principles espoused in the Declaration of Independence were right, and that it was good to revolt when we in the South did not even have a representative in parliament, but that it was one of the dumbest decisions a group of Southerners ever made on behalf of the South when they revolted because a man feared to have abolitionist sypathies was elected. I don’t think you have to reject the Declaration to think the Confederate Secession was a dumb and unadmirable idea.

          I am not in the “they ONLY seceded because of slavery” camp, but I am firmly in the “that was a dumb decision and they did the South irreparable harm by seceding camp”, just as I am in the “we have the right to reconstitute our government when it becomes tyrannical” camp.

          All of this is a side issue though… I’m still grasping for where Krugman said DiLorenzo liked slavery.

        • Daniel Kuehn says:

          I mean come on – you don’t really believe that people who don’t think much of the Confederacy implicitly “have a problem with the principles espoused in the Declaration of Independence”, do you?

          You don’t think that being against the Confederacy is co-terminous iwth being against self-determination do you?

          You can’t seriously think that.

          • bobmurphy says:

            No DK, I think people who don’t think much of the Confederacy are against it because of slavery. And when they hear that someone is “for” the Confederacy, they conclude, “Holy cow, that guy doesn’t have a problem with slavery. How in the world could he be against Lincoln? He must be a racist.”

            You are denying that slavery has anything to do with Krugman’s mocking of DiLorenzo. So OK, if you take slavery off the table, what’s left? That’s my point.

            Do you mock Braveheart? I mean, that was a dumb thing for him to do, right? He brought a lot of harm to himself and the people who followed him into battle.

          • Daniel Kuehn says:

            You really think Krugman thinks DiLorenzo doesn’t have a problem with slavery (or, to use Bill’s words, “advocates”)? Every time I think Krugman-skeptics have inferred the craziest thing imaginable out of him I get surprised once again (Horwitz’s recent Freeman article took the cake for a while).

            You don’t think, perhaps, that people that get bothered by DiLorenzo and his ilk understand that he does have a problem with slavery that he’s just managed to romanticize the Confederacy in a way that leads him to say very ill-advised things with on apparent thought about the consequences? Do you actually think Krugman thinks DiLorenzo is A-OK with slavery, or do you think it’s more likely that Krugman thinks that DiLorenzo has rationalized and romanticized a terrible episode in American history in an effort to shroud an underlying reactionism in a sort of quasi-patriotism? I don’t think Krugman actually thinks DiLorenzo is indifferent towards the bondage of black people. I think Krugman thinks the man is so wrapped up in the Lincoln-as-fascist story he’s spun that he’s rationalized the whole question of slavery out of the picture.

            It’s one thing to have a Confederate flag bumper sticker or T-Shirt. I see a lot of that where I’m from (and own one Confederate flag myself), and I know that’s a complicated symbol that different people understand differently (for right or wrong). But a professor – a professional academic – oughta know better than riling up neo-Confederates with calling Lincoln a fascist simply for having put down an armed rebellion.

            The Declaration offered reasons for the rebellion of the founders. The reasons for the Confederate rebellion absolutely pale in comparison to the reasons that the founders furnished.

          • Daniel Kuehn says:

            There’s not anything inherently wrong with the idea of secession. Why anyone could fall into a romanticization of this secession is beyond me. I don’t see anything much behind this secession other than fear and ignorance. Like I said earlier – I see a somewhat different motivation in the border states. They weren’t going to throw away Union because of the abolitionists, but when secession happened they subsequently fell in with those who they felt were more like them. That strikes me as being moderately less objectionable. Aside from that, though, I don’t see how anyone can glorify the likes of South Carolina or villify the likes of Lincoln.

          • bobmurphy says:

            DK this will be my last post on this. You should go read some of DiLo’s LewRockwell articles on Lincoln so you at least know where he is coming from. It’s a lot more than that Lincoln “merely” put down an armed rebellion (as if 600,000 dead people would be OK if it were “merely” that).

  5. Bob Roddis says:

    Yes, Krugman is just strongly hinting that Shales is also a slavery-loving neo-Confederate due to her critique of the New Deal. He’s also warning people to beware that giving any approval to Ron Paul or Rothbardian themes will mean a vicious kneecapping in the media as a racist slavery lover.

    While there are hundreds of cement-head Krugman minions as exemplified by his blog commenters, intelligent and fair minded people inquiring about Austrian Economics are going to quickly see that Krugman has no familiarity whatsoever with basic Austrian concepts and is apparently scared to death of what little he knows. They will recognize his ignorant hysterical smears for what they are. He provides us with excellent publicity.

    • Gene Callahan says:

      Yes, Bob, and you know, the press aim the same ignorant hysterical smears at L. Ron Hubbard, because they are scared to death of what little they know of Scientology.

  6. Yancey Ward says:

    It is the standard “racist” shout you see repeatedly from leftist writers. It is best laughed at and mocked.

  7. RG says:

    I think it is meant as an inside joke with his anti-pro-anti-anti-racist-slavery-anti-pro-semitic-anit-islamofacilistic-pro-racist-hate whitey-anti-pro-wing-government hater buddies.

    The letter pattern M-I-S-E-S has a short circuiting affect with the Kroog-man.

  8. Bob Roddis says:

    I made two comments on the Krugman blog:



    If you want to read something scary, read the majority of the others’ comments.

  9. bobmurphy says:

    Fellas, all I mean is, is there anything “deeper” to the Even More Forgotten Man? Or is it just, if Schlaes were going to do a sequel, she would need to tweak the title? I.e. is Krugman actually thinking of who the more forgotten man is–like, say, the newspaper editors who got locked up, or (if I know Krugman) the white slaveholder who had his property expropriated by the redistributionist Lincoln?

    See what I mean? I’m just trying to see how deep the joke goes, if at all.

  10. Robert Wenzel says:

    I don’t think it was a joke, If you read Krugman’s earlier attack on Shlaes:


    Shlaes is clearly on Krugman’s hit list.

    It’s clear that Krugman has a problem with Shlaes. I think it was a nasty swipe. Also Shlaes emailed me about my post and she didn’t bring up any problems with the way I outlined the sitiuation..

  11. Richard Moss says:


    You wrote ” Also Shlaes emailed me about my post and she ….”

    What post are you referring to?

  12. Teqzilla says:

    Kuehns performance in the comments has been amazing. Prior to the hearing this is what Kuehn said on his blog about Dilorenzo:

    “People have complained about Thomas DiLorenzo of the Mises Institute because of his sympathies for the Confederacy. South of D.C., it isn’t all that absurd to hear equivocating on this, but it’s usually pretty muted and qualified. DiLorenzo cannot be described as “muted” or “qualified” and is probably an embarassment to many even in Alabama, where the Mises Institute is located.”

    Daniel, why so hostile to the idea that Krugman would imply something you obviously believe is true? (if Dilorenzo’s “sympathies for the Confederacy…cannot be described as…”qualified”…” then how can he be anything else other than a supporter of slavery?)

    Why pretend you believe that there is a real distinction between someone being a “defender of the southern secession” and being sympathetic toward slavery when on your own blog you described even those defenders with arguments more “muted” and “qualified” than Dilorenzo’s as “equivocating”? You know full well that most of Krugman’s readers will interpret the phrase “defender of the southern secession” as “defender of slavery” as must krugman.

    • Daniel Kuehn says:

      Teqzilla –
      Well when I said that his sympathies are “unqualified” I didn’t think that implied an advocacy of slavery! If I had any expectation that you would interpret it that way, then I probably would have qualified more myself!

      DiLorenzo strikes me as far too sanguine in his treatment of the Confederacy. I did not think I needed to clarify that DiLorenzo does not seem to show any support for the idea of owning African Americans as property.

      re: “Why pretend you believe that there is a real distinction between someone being a “defender of the southern secession” and being sympathetic toward slavery

      What?!?!?! DiLorenzo is THE EXAMPLE of someone that is (IMO) an inappropriate defender of southern secession with no sign that I can tell of supporting slavery.

      You seem to be treating the situation as if the only way you can have excessive support for the Confederacy is if you like slavery. I don’t see things that way. If I knew people thought it was that big of an either/or I would have clarified more!

      • Dan says:

        What exactly is the view you think Dilorenzo has of the Civil War? You keep saying things like he is too sanguine in his treatment of the Confederacy. I’ve read The Real Lincoln, Lincoln Unmasked, and probably most of his articles on the Civil War. I can’t imagine how sanguine would even remotely characterize his views. Just curious where you are coming from on this one.

  13. sandre says:

    Get this guys. Daniel Kuehn is extremely good at equivocating.