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Oh, but this only captures half the story. See, if you are wealthy or have wealthy backers, then you've been bought and your free market claims are suspect. On the other hand, if you are less than wealthy or perhaps have even relied on the state for support, then you are a hypocrite for advocating free market principles. That's the beauty of the ad hominem circumstantial: everyone is one circumstance or another.

An "ad hominem" attacks the person and not the ideas. It is a diversion from the argument at hand. Such puerile tactics are usually an indiciation that your opponent has weak counter-arguments, or else he would have used them.

I wonder... if the ad hominem attack is one of the oldest, best understood and most widely taught of the logical fallacies among intellectuals, why do intellectuals persist in using them when arguing with each other in front of other intellectuals?

I am not asking why politicians, etc. use them - that seems fairly obvious (always a dangerous thing to say...).

Commentators like Chris Trotter appear to be constitutionally incapable of giving a straight feed on our agenda, even to the extent of calling it neoclassical when most of us would prefer a more accurate description to embrace both a kind of liberalism (addressing both freedom and welfare issues) and a more evolutionary approach to social and economic systems.

In our capacity as economic reformers we have been too slow to realise the need to fight on a broader cultural front, this is where conservatives are more active although as often as not they are critics of liberal economic reforms.

I don't think this particular kind of "ad hominem" attack is without merit in some circumstances. Much public-choice criticism would probably be considered ad hominem by the public. (I remember during the education episode of Free To Choose, Friedman remarks that all of the people who opposed his ideas had a stake in the public education system.)

But that's not to say that all social democrats are just whores to special interests. The real public-choice critique is that the kinds of institutions they desire to create will be usurped by special interests regardless of their personal motives.

Even if there is a kind of logic to his criticism, it doesn't hold; the media, intellectuals, and politicians are simply not friends of the free market--and surely aren't friends of Austrian theory. When was the last time you heard a popular politician advocate free banking?

(And I'm rather confused why he considers "intellectuals" such a threat.)

In any case, you should be proud! You have an ilk!

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