Skip to comments.WHO'S AFRAID OF VIRGINIA POSTREL? Who speaks for libertarianism the Old Right or the Neocon Clones?
Posted on 04/08/2002 10:13:00 AM PDT by H.R. Gross
click here to read article
Justin must be looking in the mirror.
Nice whine. She happens to be able to produce a lucid, coherent column. You could learn a lot from her.
I apologize, in advance, for the sheer length of this column
I see you still go for quantity over quality.
"It is of course true that in Vietnam and Cambodia, one State has been immediately displaced by another--not surprisingly, since the Communist-led insurgents are scarcely anarchists or libertarians. But States exist everywhere; there is nothing remarkable in that. What is inspiring to libertarians is to see the final and swift disintegration of a State."--source
If I could find the rest of the article, I'd post it.
Libertarians praise markets for dispensing with brute force and state coercion and leftists attack them for reflecting unequal distributions of wealth and influence, but it should be recognize that markets themselves can be great reservoirs of power that shape the development of the world.
Historically, it's taken states to create wider and more powerful markets. Governments suppress pirates and bandits, break down local and guild trade restrictions, open up countries to foreign commerce and investment, enforce contracts and promote commercial codes, and guarantee returns to capital and labor. It's perhaps true that much of this could be done by private firms and voluntary associations, but that appears to be a later development. Before such wider markets are created, voluntary associations are usually confined in caste, tribe and clan limits. A private firm or voluntary association that did take on roles in opening foreign markets could also be seen as exercising state functions.
Anyway, I think this is where Postrel is coming from. She wants to create the great, unlimited empire of freedom for autonomous individuals. She is impatient with all local groups that want to opt out of this "great society." And she doesn't have much of a problem with using power, including state power to construct, preserve and extend the global free trade zone and the empire of liberty.
The other side in this controversy, the paleolibertarians, is at a crossroads. Just what are you for? Is it the traditional liberties of Americans? As exercised in traditional political institutions? Or are you aiming at breaking up the nation in favor of smaller units? This may look to some like a return to what is truly American and truly libertarian, but annulling 200 years of American history seems like a strange way to be truly American.
The paleolibertarians seem to represent those who wish to opt out of larger political units and perhaps of the global market as well and to legislate according to their own beliefs and preferences. All the libertarian arguments against state power can be applied to state efforts to restrict the force of markets. Efforts by such breakaway states to restrict individual liberties are also likely to be condemned by libertarians.
One can sympathize with some secessionists efforts, but supporting them is another matter: what heed did Jefferson Davis give to the rights of those who didn't fit into his core constituency? Can one unequivocally label efforts at getting local elites their own independent states to legislate over as they wish a victory for liberty?
The secessionist idea looks like a great folly. The break-up of larger states into smaller ones which represent smaller groups or narrower ideologies which oppose each other absolutely doesn't look like a boon to individual freedom. And it's to be expected that at some point a unit will resist the process of breakup. Conflict results, and the cycle of conquest and repression resumes.
The question that needs to be asked is whether the secessionist idea really advances liberty or simply changes the context from economic liberty, or action through political institutions, or apolitical freedom of choice to the replacement of larger by smaller political units.
So it looks as though "libertarianism" is bound to break up over the question of individual versus group freedom or autonomy or self-determination. The side that chooses individual freedom of choice or self-fulfillment for the average or exceptional person is often apt to support efforts to expand that realm of individual freedom even to areas where most people don't accept libertarian ideology. And the side that favors the independence and self-determination of political units won't always support the advance and extention of the empire of individual liberty.
While I disagree with Postrel's policy recommendations, it does look to me like she is more in synch with the pulse of American libertarianism. Its momentum, and that of the country seems to be more inclined to dissolve smaller units into the global market and universal zone of individual freedom, than to support resisting local and regional cultures at the expense of the growth of the market and individual choice.
There is something of value in paleoconservative ideas and values, but the endless paleolibertarian mucking around with lost causes and their mystique tends to alienate people whose concern is with America, and not with this or that radical secessionist movement.
No kidding. It pretty wierd to see them blast FDR one minute, and turn right around on another thread and embrace government policies and agencies that exist only because he was successful in perverting the Commerce Clause and implementing the New Deal.
There must be more divisions. The more hawkish Freepers among us don't strike me as ex-leftists or ex-liberals. There are people who have been conservatives since day who are 'pro-war.'
"Virginia Postrel, guru of the "dynamist" trend in libertarianism, and ex-editor of Reason magazine, has long used her website as a kind of pulpit to correct the old, "static" libertarian movement and encourage a new generation of properly dynamic Bright Young Things..." - Justin RaimondoFor an opposing viewpoint, listen to Virginia on the Hugh Hewitt radio show, or visit her website:
Are there as many factions of libertarianism as there are in conservatism? I ask because I thought that the majority of libertarians were pretty much on the same page.
Or buy her book and read it. The book is very easy to read.That would be THIS book?
From Editorial Reviews - Amazon.com :
Virginia Postrel smashes conventional political boundaries in this libertarian manifesto. World-views should be defined not by how they view the present, she says, but the future. Do they aim to control it, as many conservative reactionaries and liberal planners want to do? Or do they embrace it, even though they can't know what lies ahead? Postrel (editor of Reason magazine) firmly places herself in this latter category--the dynamists, she calls her happy tribe--and urges the rest of us to sign up. The future of economic prosperity, technological progress, and cultural innovation depends upon embracing principles of choice and competition. The downside of this philosophy, Postrel readily notes, is that it doesn't allow us to manage tomorrow by acting today. And that's exactly the point: we shouldn't want to. A future constructed by an infinite number of individual decisions, made privately, is one she believes we should encourage. The Future and Its Enemies is at once intellectually sweeping and reader-friendly; it has the potential to join a pantheon of books about freedom that includes works by Friedrich Hayek and Milton Friedman. --John J. Miller
The Wall Street Journal, Daniel J. Silver
...a pointed and provocative cultural critique. She argues that if Americans do not meet the future in the proper spirit, we will miss its benefits--or be run over by it.
1) Minarchists -- Those who believe in strictly (not to mention severely) limited government.
2) Anarchists -- That is, anarchocapitalists, who believe that all "services" presently provided by government can be provided by the private sector, including defense.
But these two groups are not really relevant, not since the early 1970s, when the two groups in the Libertarian Party decided to call a truce and agree to disagree. But that just meant that the factions took on different colorations:
1) The "Berglandistas" -- This is the group centered, originally, around David Bergland, the LP Presidential candidate in 1984. This group inherited the LP after the Cato group left. Ideologically orthodox.
2) Cato Institute -- This group used to be associated with the LP, but left in 1983, after a tumultuous party convention at which their candidate for President (Earl Ravenal) lost by 3 votes. Ideologically chamleon-like, and obsessed with "respectability," these guys are sell-outs.
3) The Objectivists -- Followers of Ayn Rand. These guys are loony, for the most part, and one could make the argument that they are a cult. They are also fractured into at least 2 mutually antagonistic groups. The splits are supposedly over ideology, but of course it's all personalities.... Oh, and by the way, they hate the libertarians.
4) The Galambosians -- Followers of the late Andrew J. Galambos, who believed ... well, nobody can say what they believe because a central tenet of Galambosianism is that people OWN their ideas, and you don't have the right to repeat them unless you PAY them. So, aside from this one tenet, not much is known about the Galambos philosophy ....
5) The Anti-Party "left" libetarians -- These are people who refused to join the Libertarian Party when it was organized, back in the 1970s, and haven't done much of anything since ... except, of course, criticize the LP.
6) The various factions in the Libertarian Party are beyond my scope, since I am no longer active in LP circles. However, based on past experience, you can be sure there are at least several....
7) Finally, there are the Rothbardians. These are followers of the late economist-philosopher Murray N. Rothbard, author of many books and the original founder of the Cato Institute. He split with Cato in 1983, and with the LP in the late 80s. Rothbardians are radical anti-statists, "isolationist" in foreign policy, and look to their Old Right heritage in the conservative movement prior to the cold war. The Ludwig von Mises Institute, in Auburn, Alabama, is the Rothbardian thinktank. Antiwar.com is directly inspired by Rothbard.
I'm sure I've left a lot out -- I describe a new, pro-war neocon-dominated faction in the above article -- but this should serve as a broad outline.
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