Cold Fury

Harshing your mellow since 9/01

Libertarian, conservative, Other

Still more on the “libertarian moment.”

For America to flourish, it doesn’t need a “libertarian moment” or even a conservative moment, with the latter’s emphasis on “traditional morality.” It needs libertarians and conservatives to come together to defeat their common enemy—radical utopian statists and their centralized, ever-expanding welfare state. If our liberties are to be protected, conservatives and libertarians must stand united on the principles of limited government.

What America needs is a “constitutional moment.”

You said a mouthful there, missy. Plenty more, all excellent. A good explanation of why I’m not entirely comfortable with calling myself either a conservative or a libertarian. In sum:

The radical’s first thought, Weaver said, is to get control of the state “to make all men equal or to make all men rich, or failing that to make all men equally unhappy. This use of political instrumentality to coerce people to conform with his dream, in the face of their belief in a real order, is our reason, I think, for objecting to the radical.”

A person can hope to change the world to make it better. “But,” Weaver warned, “when he tries to use the instrumentality of the state to bring about his wishes, then all of us are involved, and we have to take our stand.”

This is the common ground of the conservative and the libertarian as Weaver saw it in 1960. It is more true today than it was then. “The conservative in his proper character and role is a defender of liberty,” Weaver wrote. “He is such because he takes his stand on the real order of things and because he has a very modest estimate of man’s ability to change that order through the coercive power of the state…I therefore can see nothing to keep him from joining hands with the libertarian, who arrives at the same position by a different route, perhaps, but out of the same impulse to condemn arbitrary power” (emphasis mine).

Again: amen to all that.


2 thoughts on “Libertarian, conservative, Other

  1. Some years ago, I heard a lecture by Reverend John Williams of Australia, in which he gave a rather unusual — by prevailing educational standards, at least — rendition of the evolution of modern political families. He traced it back to the emergence of the socialists in Great Britain in the 1800s. It ran roughly thus:

    The Tories wanted a very powerful State to enforce their preferred moral codes and to protect the privileged positions of the nobility and the landed gentry. The liberals (it meant something closer to “libertarian” then and there) wanted a far smaller and weaker state, to promote the liberty they saw as the engine of human prosperity and moral progress. The socialists came along and said to the liberals, “Why not take over the powerful State of the Tories and use it to achieve your own goals?” And the liberals, both in Britain and in the U.S., said, “Sure, why not?”

    As liberalism morphed into the “progressivism” of today, the use of State power to achieve any sort of goal, good, bad, or indifferent, completely eclipsed any vestigial attachment to freedom the liberals once held. And if you can hear John Edward Emmerich Dalberg, a.k.a. Lord Acton, muttering “I told them so” off in the distance, you’re not alone.

  2. I am a conservative not a libertarian. When I look for a definition of libertarianism it always comes back to the freedom to use drugs, etc, rather than to live in a society where the maximum options are available to persue your goals without hinderance or regulation. A society without rules and regulations cannot function where everyone is free to do what he wishes utilizing the mantra of “but I am harming no one.”

    We see the hippies and the drug culture of the sixties and what did society reap? Is the world better for their “freedom to do as they pleased?” A civil society will never recognize that child molesters can be scout masters nor that queers can sue others for their religious beliefs. I wonder how “libertarians” will resolve this?

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