The Death of Liberaltarianism

liberaltarianism

Robert Stacy McCain has a brilliant column here on the death of the idea of a liberal and libertarian alliance.  Libertarian sites are noted for their scorn of traditional conservatives.  It will be amusing to see how much their economic and small government ideas need to be trashed before they decide that government sanctioned hedonism is not satisfactory compensation for paying for the socialization of America.

15 Responses to The Death of Liberaltarianism

  • I guess I’m missing something here. I consider myself a little “l” libertarian, but myself and other libertarians I know and read about are hardly Obama supporters. Lewrockwell.com scorns Obama just as much as they scorned Bush.

    I suppose there must a class of political thinking that calls itself liberal/libertarian and supports Obama.

  • Most libertarians I know are fairly conflicted. They are repelled both by social conservatism (particularly the creationist strain, but sometimes also by the pro-life/defense of marriage strain), and, of course, by Obama/Pelosi style big-government liberalism. As Bush blurred the lines between what Republicans are offering and Obama/Pelosi style liberalism in terms of fiscal policy, many of them naturally gravitated towards the Democrats last election. Granted, nearly everyone gravitated towards the Democrats last election (at least relative to 2004), so that may not mean very much.

    I think at this point we have at least a partial answer to the rhetorical question, ‘How much worse could government spending get than it did under Bush?’ It remains to be seen how libertarians (and liberaltarians) will respond next election cycle. It also remains to be seen whether libertarians are really numerous enough to matter. As delightful as they are as bloggers, there seems to be an all-chiefs-no-indians quality to the libertarian movement.

  • I don’t find myself conflicted in terms of conviction.

    Democrats and liberals are the “cool” people. You don’t mind hanging out with them (well, most of them…they have their fair share of “creepy”), and they certainly at least put on the aura of intelligence. But scratch just a little and you’ll find a philosophical undercurrent to their thinking thats positively loathsome. So, no problem abandoning them at all.

    With the GOP its quite a bit more complicated. There’s plenty I “agree” with, but of course thanks to the last 8 years I don’t trust them to actually follow through on their political philosophy. That, and the strain of militarism and foreign interventionism unnerves me quite a bit. The militarism especially. It borders on state-worship to my mind. The GOP at times seems down right trigger-happy, which is quite a bit different than defending 2nd amendment rights!

    I still think there’s “hope” for libertarianism long term. If the GOP continues to be broadly defeated and the Democrats ruin everything like they always do then perhaps their might come a tipping point were people across the spectrum will say “you know, lets actually give liberty a shot again”.

  • “As delightful as they are as bloggers, there seems to be an all-chiefs-no-indians quality to the libertarian movement.”

    That is very true as to the all-chiefs-no-indians quality. The charm of their bloggers, I confess, has mostly eluded me.

  • Anthony,

    the GOP at times seems down right trigger-happy

    you may have forgotten that there was a bipartisan resolution in congress authorizing military action in Afghanistan and Iraq, 70% of the population supported it. While you may have been among the 30%, it was hardly an unpopular move. Getting bogged down was unpopular.

  • “you may have forgotten that there was a bipartisan resolution in congress authorizing military action in Afghanistan and Iraq, 70% of the population supported it. While you may have been among the 30%, it was hardly an unpopular move. Getting bogged down was unpopular”

    I haven’t forgotten, I just think its a bit irrelevant. Thats not to imply that the Democrats/liberals don’t love their wars. I’m confidant Obama will demonstrate in due time.

    Military action in Afghanistan was quite a bit different than Iraq. Afghanistan is an undeclared war in reaction to a specific event done against the United States. In the case of Iraq its an undeclared war of choice and aggression, which distinguishes it in a bad way.

    What does that have to do with my feelings towards the GOP? Everything. They turned their back from a “humble” foreign policy and instead abandoned all common sense in favor paranoia and political opportunism. The idea of invading Iraq being “popular” shouldn’t have had any bearing on whether or not it was a moral thing to do.

    And getting bogged down in what was unpopular?

  • In the late ’80′s I started to shift to the right – quite against my will, I might add. I lived in Washington DC. I was a paralegal at the time and worked for various law firms, but most of my friends were staunchly liberal government workers. I thought I was too cool for school in the 1980′s – a “cultural Catholic” (i.e.: Mass at Christmas and Easter) who knew better than to express my private qualms about Roe v. Wade in polite company. I loathed Reagan and thought the Washington Post was the true word of God.

    And then reality started setting in. I started shamefacedly buying copies of the National Review and to my horror, I found I agreed with many of the articles. I began calling myself a libertarian, because I could not bring myself to admit that I was becoming a *gasp* conservative. Conservatives were Republicans and everyone knew the Republican Party was made up of wealthy, middle aged, WASPY white guys like William F. Buckley (I didn’t know then that he was a Catholic) who belonged to country clubs and looked down on everyone who wasn’t a wealthy WASP. That was the image I had of them, at any rate, and it horrified me to think I might be morphing into something that seemed so alien to my sensibilities. (A decidedly non-WASPy Republican co-worker from South Philly pointed out the obvious fact that the many millions who had voted for Reagan in ’80 and ’84 were not all country club WASP’s. He also pointed out WASP’s we both knew – Groton, Harvard, lockjaw accent types – who were indisputably flaming libs. But prejudices do die hard.)

    I called myself a libertarian for a long time, despite the fact that I find Ayn Rand unreadable. Why? Well, I still had all those lib friends. When I said at parties, “I don’t believe in big government any more” – a dangerous sentiment to voice in Washington DC, no matter who is in the WH – and eyebrows were raised, I found that following it up with “I’m not a conservative, I’m a libertarian” was somehow socially acceptable. And then I discovered the reason for that – all the libertarians I met seemed to be mainly concerned with drug legalization. And on abortion, they were no better than the liberals.

    I am back in my hometown now, and although I live in a very left-wing neighborhood (ah, but I am a block away from Lake Michigan, and I love the lake dearly, and the Art Museum and any number of good restaurants are a short walk away), I am now a middle-aged woman and coolness does not concern me any more. So I freely admit to being a conservative and (since 2005) a Catholic revert.

    And I do wonder if libertarism isn’t, for some others as well as for me, a phase one passes through on the way from the left to the right, an attempt to maintain hipness at an age when hipness still matters.

  • Anthony,

    sorry for not being clear. I was responding to an accusation you made apparently singling out the GOP as down right trigger-happy. It wasn’t moral defense of the Iraq war. If the GOP was trigger happy, so were the Democrats, and the typical American. That’s all. There’s no need to hijack the thread on the question of a just war.

    They turned their back from a “humble” foreign policy

    A fair enough point.

    and instead abandoned all common sense in favor paranoia and political opportunism.

    No basis for this. The US had been long escalating it’s response to Hussein’s refusal to submit to the terms of the ceasefire agreement he signed during the first Gulf War… and his periodic attacks on US pilots enforcing the UN sanctioned no-fly zone.

    The idea of invading Iraq being “popular” shouldn’t have had any bearing on whether or not it was a moral thing to do.

    And it doesn’t.

    And getting bogged down in what was unpopular?

    I don’t understand what you’re confused about? My response was referring to the Iraq war, you’re surely aware we got bogged down until a change in leadership, strategy, and tactics.

  • Nice biographical detail Donna. I am certain that when young more than a few people adopt the political attitudes of the friends that they admire. Then time passes, friends change, experience accumulates and analysis and thought begin.

  • I became acquainted with Ayn Rand and Objectivism via my husband, who had had a brief flirtation with Objectivism in his youth and had several of her books. (By the time I met him, however, he had discarded that and had reverted to his Catholic faith.)

    I will give Rand credit for pointing out that ideas matter (see “Philosophy: Who Needs It”), and that there is such a thing as objective truth, falsehood, right and wrong. She also did a great job of skewering some of the pretentions of the ’60s counterculture crowd.

    However, I think a lot of her ideas — particularly the notion that “altruism” is bad and “selfishness” is good — were simply overreactions to the oppression she experienced in Communist Russia and her disgust with Nazism. Objectivist philosophy leaves no room for God, for the family, for the virtue of charity or for any notion of a common good. In fact, Objectivists will argue until they are blue in the face that there is no such thing as “common good.”

    I got a kick out of watching hard core Objectivists on You Tube, several months ago, try to explain away Rand disciple Alan Greenspan’s admission that the economic policies he’d been following for most of his life just might have been a bit off the mark.

  • This blogpost doesn’t make sense to me. As there is no term that is called ‘liberaltarianism’ and Libertarians in general despise the [American] liberals (as the term is very different from what it means in Europe), maybe the poster is just upset that some people that aren’t proclaiming themselves to be conservatives nor liberals voted Obama. Not sure. In either way, the only one to vote for in 2008 for a Libertarian would have been Ron Paul…which sadly didn’t reach above some collective 10% in the primaries. Americans still have a long way to go in adopting their for-fathers whishes for a free nation.

  • As there is no term that is called ‘liberaltarianism’

    The whole point of this post and the one linked to it as that there is a group of American libertarians who coined the phrase and who have called for an alliance of libertarians and the Democratic party.

  • Paul>> Thanks for that explanation.
    One thing in the OP however: “Libertarian sites are noted for their scorn of traditional conservatives. It will be amusing to see how much their economic and small government ideas need to be trashed before they decide that government sanctioned hedonism is not satisfactory compensation for paying for the socialization of America.”
    Here the author fails to make a distinction between the supposed minority of some Libertarians wanting to form a ‘Liberaltarism’-group and real Libertarians. Hence part of my confusement.

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