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Libertarian Beatdown

Jonah Goldberg has a roundup of links criticizing Jacob Weisberg's brainless piece about the death of libertarianism.


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Pro Libertate wrote:

Not only are we not dead, we're going to get a lot stronger over the next few years. While both parties have been ratcheting up government power at a healthy clip, the current situation appears to all but ensure a mini (or not so mini) New Deal. Regardless, incidentally, of whom occupies the White House come January.

If the Democrats continue to hold the Congress, it'll be interesting to see if the GOP takes a 1994-like shift towards free(er) markets and (more) limited government. If not, we may actually see the rise of a third party to accommodate those increasingly frustrated with and fearful of unrestrained government.

Anonymous wrote:

Yes, well, the notion of an organized, disciplined mass movement (e.g. successful political party) devoted to the ideals of individual liberty is rather a philosophical oxymoron, is it not?

I think libertarianism (or classical liberalism, or even Whiggishness, if you prefer your vocabulary eighteenth century) is just as strong an individual ideal as it ever was, and ever will be. But since it can't really be a mass movement itself, by definition, its only presence as a political movement is usually within, or as a minor strand of, a more conventional mass movement on the left or right.

So, at various times the left and the right pick up a taste for individual liberty, and become colored by libertarianism, so to speak, so that we begin to identify individuals who speak mostly of individual liberty with one party or another.

But inevitably the marriage sours, and the mass movement trundles off back towards its totalitarian ideal, while the lovers of liberty drop out and rethink their associations.

So, yeah, "libertarian" mass movements are dying (and being born) all the time, but the individual philosophy is enduring.

Pro Libertate wrote:

The strong individualistic nature of libertarians can make it hard to unite around common principles at times, but I don't think there's anything inherently anti-cooperative about libertarians. If a third party or an arm of a major party were to really push the concept of limited government and maximized liberty, I don't doubt that a large number of people would jump on, especially given recent events. Ron Paul's surprising success demonstrates some desire for that, even from very diverse groups. It's not like he personally was a dynamic campaigner.

Carl Pham wrote:

I think Ron Paul's surprising success has more to do with the declining satisfaction of libertarians for the Republican Party than with any putative increase in the number of people with those values.

That is, I suggest it's not that there are more libertarians qua libertarians -- but that fewer libertarians think calling yourself a "Republican" means almost the same thing as calling yourself a "libertarian."

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This page contains a single entry by Rand Simberg published on October 21, 2008 9:01 AM.

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