And this is precisely where the difference lies, a conservative who comes from a Judeo/Christian worldview believes that mankind is born spiritually dead in sin and that the laws of civilized societies are necessary to contain that sinful nature. That is diametrically opposed to the libertarian view of the "dignity" of man which is much closer to liberalism that sees man as being perfectable.
The problem is that you can't patent or copyright an idea. In an age of liberal dominance, the radical suburban kids of the Sixties took the left to places that Wilsonians, Wobblies and Stalinists didn't go, and may not have dreamed of. Today, in a more conservative or free market era, a later generation of suburban kids will take the prevailing ideologies and use them to get what they want or express their rebellion.
Where you come from in intellectual history may be as important as where you are trying to go. Libertarian ideas arising in an era of "character-building" scarcity are bound to develop differently from those which take root in an age of affluence, self-expression and "autonomy." That relationship between circumstances and ideas is one reason why lewrockwell's interpretations of history so often fall flat: the same concept or value will not have the same consequences in every age.
But withal, a good and necessary blast against Postrel and the odious Gillespie. Thanks for this.
Libertarianize the GOP
Einstein said, "Make things as simple as possible but no simpler." Libertarians (at least the few self-appointed elite loudmouths like Virginia Postrel) make a vice out of the virtue of liberty. They oversimplify liberty in the same grossly dumb way some Republicans oversimplify free markets and some Democrats oversimplify social justice.
Proof: Consider the size of the Libertarian Party. QED.
The natural rights argument (argument 2,):
If I have an absolute right to my property and to my own body, it follows that the government cannot stop me, say, from fornicating or using drugs thus says the libertarian, and thus the appearance of tension between libertarianism and conservatism. But as (almost) all libertarians know, the tension is only apparent, and only to those not used to making rather obvious distinctions (journalists, political hacks, television personalities who've just discovered the word "libertarian," etc.). Libertarianism entails that the state must not impose traditional scruples through force of law; it does not entail that that such scruples are not valid.
What is not legally binding on us may nevertheless be morally binding on us.
Some libertarians may, of course, dislike and disagree with traditional moral rules; but others might believe strongly in them, even though they would not advocate imposing them on others through the power of the state, and they do not cease being libertarians for that.
The author lost me somewhere in his, imo, overly complex defense of argument 3, - particularily when he had already made a perfectly logical defence of 2, as I underlined.
I do want to comment on the following minor point, because to me it doesn't make sense as written and may lead to confusion or difficulty in getting the author's later points:
This, at least, is the inference one naturally draws from their tendency to bifurcate between (on the one hand) those who want to impose, through force of law, their moral views on others, and (on the other hand) those, like themselves, who refuse to offer the faintest criticism of anything and everything done between consenting adults as if there were no third position, viz. that of those who reject the use of state power to enforce traditional morality, but are nevertheless critical of those who flaunt it.I think the author intended the word "flout" instead of "flaunt."
I'm shocked I tell ya! Shocked! This describes me almost to the letter! Yet somehow, speaking highly of traditionalist values (authoritatively, even) raises the ire of some of the most vocal libertarians here at FR. It is as if they believe my disapproval, say, of the homosexual lifestyle is somehow an endorsement of the state outlawing these activities.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
If a man desires to have sex with another consenting adult man, they have the right to engage in their desire. However, I will voice my belief in the immorality of that desire and practice.
The same goes for drug use. I've witnessed the absolute destruction that hard drug use brings within both a family and a community as a whole. But this is another subject.
From reading this column about what libertarianism "isn't," the most glaring theme within the libertarian sector appears to be a failure to properly pin down just what libertarianism truly means. It apparently means different things to different people. And if this is the case, the lack of a truly unifying theme hurts the libertarian movement severely.
I'm a Christian, but I don't want the government enforcing my version of my lifestyle on everyone else. I respect their right to decide what is right for them, so long as it doesn't interfere with my right (or the right of anyone else) to do the same.
It's not the place of the government to engineer society. That's up to us, through our personal power of persuasion and the truths of our messages.
With enough room for a little fun!!
Suppose the US had a law against abortion, would it 'follow then' that the US 'may' "morally" put economic sanctions on countries or even wage war on a country that allows abortion?
In short I'm bringing up the concept of "sphere of application" for certain "group rights" and how the scope is dependent on the right being claimed.
If we orient ourselves toward granular government and concert our efforts against allowing mass democracy to bulldoze over the availability of choice, we have to manage the co-existance problems and what you might call the transition/implementation problem. The latter I think calls on a different form of lawmaking that is not so binary and tries to phase-in or out various prohibitions.
So, recognizing a community has the right to live 'porn-free' or drug-free, but denying blanket democratic imposition of these rights on any larger scale, we go on to say: If a community is evolving toward a prohibition or repeal, they must proceed using a guideline for transition-- one that doesnt "turn people into criminals overnight" nor "let the drug trade out of a cage".
The article comes close to implying that Libertarianism actually facilitates traditionalism, because traditionalism will triumph based on Darwinian principles, if allowed to act in an unfettered manner. That is an empirical matter, and I suspect wrong. It also misses the point, the point being that the issue is to what degree can traditionalism tolerate non-traditionalism in its midst, for the good and just society to survive and prosper, and facilitate the legitimate pursuit of human happiness?
Libertarianism is superficially attractive in suggesting that everyone has a right to do their own thing, provided that it does not impose costs on others. Traditionalists would have a weak case in opposing this. To do so smacks of officious intermedling, and a certain cultural hubris. It would also choke off cultural experimentation that might be healthy and necessary as technology and other external conditions evolve.
The rub of course is the "not imposing costs on others" bit. Most of our actions and cultural morays impact others, and impose costs and/or offer benefits. Tolerating Darwinian poverty, an uneducated populace that in too many instances can't afford or chooses not be seek knowledge, untrammeled substance abuse, irresponsible procreation, environmental pollution, a lack of revenues derived from coercive taxation necessary to finance the common defense and roads and public safety, does impose costs on the society at large that are not resolved by any private contract, and are not internalized in the price system. Someone is getting a free lunch, and someone is paying for it, no matter how much the libertarians would wish to deny it, and avoid dealing with it.
Thus the task is to find a balance between individual liberty and community concerns. Libertarian sensibilities and methods of internalizing as much as reasonably possible into the price system are useful in arriving at the most optimal balance, but not the whole solution. Much of it is beyond ideology, and must rely on practical experience and empirical data, the use of which must be combined with ideology, in seeking that elusive golden mean.