Are Libertarians Really as Useless as a Bucket of Armpits? Or Do They Just Smell That Way?

Over at The Atlantic, Clive Crook reads through Reason's August-September symposium on Where Do Libertarians Belong? and comes to the conclusion that:

Libertarians disagree with progressives about markets and with conservatives about "values", and that is really that. To the extent that they (we) serve any purpose at all, it is to challenge the two dominant strains of thinking, hoping to nudge each in the right direction. For now at least, I cannot see what purpose is served by worrying about which of these unappeasable opponents would make the better partner.

More here.

Reason Contributing Editor Veronique de Rugy responds to Crook's post at National Review's The Corner by linking to Scott Sumner at The Money Illusion, who points out that libertarians have changed liberal minds on many issues ranging from state ownership of industries, price controls, top marginal tax rates, regulatory excess, and more.

She might have added that libertarians (think Milton Friedman) had clear influence on conservatives regarding a military draft, tax policy, and school choice, for starters. In terms of partisan politics, the only self-identified libertarian in the 2008 presidential election, Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas), not only showed candidates how to use the web for organizing and fundraising, he almost singlehandedly put foreign policy on the table as a serious topic. Virtually all the GOP and Dem candidates (even Obama early on) were essentially status quo when it came to examining Iraq and Afghanistan. That's a pretty freaking huge impact. Going back almost a decade, Republican loyalists started carping about how Libertarians, tiny in number but rich in love, cost the GOP various elections. If you take even the most conservative estimate of a semi-libertarian electorate (say 10 percent) that is consistently in favor of social tolerance and limited government, you've got enough Free Minds and Free Markets folks to swing any election.

I think part of the problem with these sorts of discussions, including Brink Lindsey's liberaltarianism, is that participants are constantly mixing levels of discussions (I know I do). Liberals and conservatives are used interchangeably for Democrats and Republicans, right wing and left wing, etc. While the Dems are reliably more liberal (in a contemporary sense) than Republicans, the overlap isn't perfect and many liberals have libertarian or even conservative sympathies. And while their numbers are small, there are in fact libertarian Democrats along with liberal Republicans. Most importantly, how someone governs is probably less a reflection of ideology than other material concerns (there's the Marxist libertarian in me!).

Think about it: As de Rugy herself showed early and often, conservative Bush and a conservative GOP Congress spent more money in real terms than LBJ and his liberal Democratic Congress. Con vs. Lib Ideology doesn't explain all that much about the massive expansion of government under both parties.

The question isn't whether libertarians are useful, but how they are useful. Let me suggest a couple of things that Matt Welch and I have argued for years (and are expanding into book form):

1. Politics is a lagging indicator in American society. It's the least innovative sector of activity and changes arrive there after sweeping through the rest of the culture. The United States (and most of the world) is vastly more libertian than it ever has been, thanks to economic, technological, and social innovations. We all have more choices than ever, whether we're talking about stuff to buy or lifestyles to live. As important, we're all more comfortable (not perfectly comfortable, but more comfortable) with choices and tolerance for other people's choices.

2. Libertarianism (with a small 'l') is a pre-political, pre-partisan impulse. It informs what sorts of political choices or affiliations you might make (and for a variety of good reasons, as de Rugy notes, those affiliations historically tipped to the Republican Party, at least in the post-war period), but it's prior to partisan politics. Which helps explain why many of the great libertarian policies of the past 40 years came under Democratic presidents (think deregulation of airlines and interstate trucking, both pushed by Jimmy Carter and Ted Kennedy in the legislative arena).

The real impact of a libertarian sensibility is building a mind-set that privileges autonomy and individual choice, voluntarism, and openness over top-down, coercive systems that force everyone to go along to get along (that sort of single-value system is a hallmark of conservative and liberal thinking, where one calculation of value is forced on everyone, whether we're talking about sexual orientation or health care). it reflects all the best trends in commerce and culture of the past 40 years (think distributed networks, constant innovation, and the rise of glorious aesthetic anarchy). That mind-set has already shaken the world in ways big and small and will continue to do so.

Update: I neglected to mention that Reason's own Brian Doherty blogged the Sumner post a while back, emphasizing the enormous shift in the general zeitgeist over the past 75 or so years from a standard liberal one to a much-more libertarian one.

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  • ||

    Cops, soldiers and rent seekers are as useless as a bucket of armpits.

  • Night Elf Mohawk||

    Soldiers seem pretty useful even if they aren't necessarily utilized in ideal ways.

  • ♥♥♥||

    Cops seem pretty useful to me. For every bad one you hear about, there are 10 good ones getting no mention, and selectively enforcing laws that actually matter.

  • kilroy||

    Like wearing your seatbelt.

  • ||

    Really? So where are those 10 good ones when the bad ones are doing their thing?

  • ||

    Can we agree on:

    1.) There ARE good cops (exact number unknown); and

    2.) We need more of them?

  • ||

    No, we can't, because it is impossible for me to consider a cop "good" until they actively arrest their own corrupt brethren. And we both know that ain't gonna happen.

    What we need is less laws (for cops to use to abuse people), less cops, and more accountability (always being filmed, etc.), and a complete end to cop unions.

    And that would just be a start.

  • Pip||

    ^^THIS^^

  • ||

    You just want Serpico Charlie:

    Police Clerk: What is this?
    Charlie: That right there is a tale of corruption and intrigue, the likes of which are gonna rock this city.
    Police Clerk: (reading the label) "Spin Doctors Mix"?
    Charlie: No, I taped over the Spin Doctors mix.
    Police Clerk: Sir, I do not have time to listen to your mix tape.

  • ||

    Charlie: (shouting in the police station) Who wants a piece of Serpico? 'Cause I'll give it to you! I'll give a piece because you're forgetting about (points to the American flag) this! And you're forgetting about (grabs the state flag) ... whatever the hell that is! But you're forgettin' about it! (holds up cassette) And I'm gonna take this right to the mayor! And you're gonna remember! (kicks open the door and leaves)

    Police Clerk: We really gotta do something about these homeless people.

  • Warty||

    4 THE MARE

  • Mr Whipple||

    You can't blame an assembly line worker for a design flaw.

  • smartass||

    "No, we can't, because it is impossible for me to consider a cop "good" until they actively arrest their own corrupt brethren"

    I'd settle for them not being complicit in covering up their crimes. That said, that might already be the case. As long as the leadership is corrupt, they can keep the few good cops isolated from the action.

  • Extended Warren T||

    We don't need more cops, we need less laws.

  • James C Bennett||

    There is no such thing as a good cop. If there were a good cop, he would arrest the first bad cop he came across, and then be fired.

  • TallDave||

    So you're saying they exist, they just have a short half-life.

  • ||

    Speaking in the abstract, a bucket of armpits would be EXTREMELY useful if you were suffering from hyperthermia. Certainly more useful than your average Democrat or Republican.

  • Mo||

    They would be useful if you were stuck on top of the Andes after a plane crash. The only problem is, as Charlie and Dee discovered, is that you get the hunger afterwards.

  • ||

    A bucket of armpits

    Axillism rears its ugly head again, I see.

  • ||

    You mean axillary intercourse, I hope; not just appreciation.

  • ||

    Of course that's what I mean, you despicable armpit-fucker.

  • ||

    No homo.

  • Ragin Cajun||

    The United States (and most of the world) is vastly more libertian

    Dammit, why am I always behind on the neologisms? What does this mean?

  • ||

    He meant Liberian. The world is much more like Liberia than it used to be.

  • ||

    I really thought he meant librarian. They will inherit the Earth, you know.

  • ||

    I ain't meek, motherfucker.

  • ||

    Look, you're already getting the Earth. Don't get so fucking huffy over your meekness-overcompensation.

  • ||

    He thought you said "geek". Note the defensiveness.

  • ||

    I thought he said, "The Greek will inherit the Earth."

  • ||

    Librarians may inherit the Earth, but we don't want it.

  • Cabeza de Vaca||

    I don't blame you, the inheritance tax would be enormous.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Most importantly, how someone governs is probably less a reflection of ideology than other material concerns...

    How a politician (on either side) governs appears to be solely determined by equal parts a need for personal gain and a pathological inability to think in terms of "there is no public sector solution to that problem". Hopefully any libertarian-minded leader would get away from the latter, at least.

  • ♥♥♥||

    solely determined by equal parts

    Ummm...

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    I just knew someone would try to get me on this! Equal parts of the whole. The whole can be solely something. Take that.

  • Moose||

    You ready for your swirlie, aristotle?

    How 'bout a Hurtz Donut?

  • ||

    The world has radically changed in the last 40 years. And it has changed to become more interconnected and autonomous. In a lot of ways the the rise of government in the last 30 years has been a rear guard action by forces that are adversely affected by these changes.

    Yes, Postrel has a good point when she talks about the forces of dynamism versus the forces of stasis. You can drink now.

  • Ken||

    Fucking libertarians, how do they work?

  • ♥♥♥||

    Like that meme that wasn't funny.

  • smartass||

    It was funny, until some asshole ran it into the ground.

  • ||

    Libertarianism (with a small 'l') is a pre-political, pre-partisan impulse.

    I'm not sure I'm completely sold on this. I think it really only applies to anti-authoritarian-rooted libertarianism. Economically-derived libertarianism usually comes later in life.

    The postulate gets too close to libertarian essentialism, precluding the notion that one can come to it through ratiocination.

  • Warty||

    I think I came to libertarianism as an early teenager because my incompetent teachers and principals showed me how worthless authority really is. The economic stuff was always there for me, because I was raised by TEAM RED small business owners. So there may be something to libertarian essentialism, at least for some of us.

  • ||

    What I'm getting at is that libertarian essentialism gets close to suggesting that if you weren't always a libertarian, then you never really will be one.

    I think a personal conception of individualist anarchism is innate, but libertarianism itself isn't an inborn idea.

    It goes back to the "What are libertarian movies" thread a while back. We named a lot of anarchist, individualistic, and nihilism-lite films, but those are components of libertarianism, which is a position of rational consideration, not the whole.

  • Chad||

    Or you could be like me and plenty of other people I know, whose libertarianism faded with our acne.

  • BakedPenguin||

    Funny, my leftism faded about the same time (although I didn't have zits). Something about reading history and noting that government kept failing over and over at everything it claimed it was trying to do. 20 years later, it's still failing.

  • Zeb||

    In other words, you went to college and wanted to score with hot hippy chicks.

  • Pedant||

    It's nothing more than a single datum, but while my early political sense was libertarian leaning, it was only after studying economics and more rigorously thinking about the underlying principles of libertarianism that I become an individualist anarchist (or whatever the term is nowadays).

  • ||

    I became a libertarian after being abducted by aliens and taken to their utopian paradise in a Dyson sphere located in NGC 4603. Naturally, they--being near-perfect beings--operated as autonomous and free creatures.

  • ||

    Sounds like you are ready to graduate to The Libertarian Party. You are a shoo-in for Vice President, at least.

  • ||

    Nah, they don't accept mere humans anymore.

  • ||

    That's why I suggested you.

  • Warty||

    WHAT DO YOU MEAN, "FORGET ABOUT THE GELGAMEKS"?!?!?!?

  • ||

    I had to climb out of a steep gravity-well in an asteroid storm to deliver Libertarian Party pamphlets! What did you cosmic-cosmotarians ever do?!?

    Cyborg Giuliani in 2184!

  • ||

    I'm still technically human, dude.

  • Slut Bunwalla||

    Dyson sphere, nice reference.

  • ||

    Most people around these parts talk about ringworlds. But I don't cotton to such talk.

  • ||

    Ringworld? Pfft. "Hey, let's build 3% of a Dyson Sphere and stop. Cause we are all space-lazy."

  • ||

    Precisely. I mean, what self-respecting super race wants to live on a mere ringworld? They're like the mobile homes of Type II civilizations.

  • Sam Grove||

    I guess it depends on the availability of raw materials in your system.

  • ||

    That's where energy-matter equivalence is your friend.

  • TallDave||

    All those civilizations are crazy anyway. That's why so much lithium is missing.

  • ||

    Maybe that's why they won't talk to us.

  • Chad||

    By "later in life", you mean, what, 16 or 17 years old?

  • Almanian||

    Hahahahahahaha!!!!11!

  • Warty||

    I failed to post any metal in the morning links, so have some Iron Maiden, fucktards.

  • ||

    Re: The Late Philip J. Fry

    What you found ("Flight Into Forever") is the story is was looking for, but that page still doesn't include Tau Zero, which is the other half of the episode plot.

    I salute them for blending two Poul Anderson concepts.

  • Warty||

    In my undergrad algorithms class, the professor once told us about how David X. Cohen had authored some theoretical CS papers before moving to TV writing. To this day, every time I see his name, I hear, "I suppose Bart Simpson was more exciting than theoretical computer science!" in a heavy Turkish accent.

  • ||

    Threadjack.

    "It IS a TOOOOOMMAHHHHHH."

    http://www.heraldsun.com.au/li.....5910187842

  • Pip||

    Great visual. Can I get fries with that?

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Weighing a shocking 23kg...

    ...weighing 140kg and returned home 35kg lighter.

    "In layman's terms, it was as if this woman had been pregnant with quintuplets."

    What are these units of measurement??? SPEAK AMERICAN!

  • Brett L||

    She was about 310 lbs, and came home about 80 lbs lighter. The tumor weighed about 50 lbs.

  • Brett L||

    Shit. 85 lbs lighter. To get it within +/- 5lbs.

  • Crocodile Dundee||

    Crikey, I mentioned that yesterday.

    Now, don't be useless: Pay my taxes!

  • The Extispicator||

    Do we all still have to be assholes as a prerequisite? I always thought that was the primary libertarian impulse.

  • Zeb||

    I think that is more the contrarian impulse. Which you really need to remain a libertarian sometimes, but is not the same thing.

  • Paul||

    liberal minds on many issues ranging from state ownership of industries, price controls, top marginal tax rates, regulatory excess, and more.

    We have? Holy shit we're in trouble...

  • ||

    The United States (and most of the world) is vastly more libertian than it ever has been, thanks to economic, technological, and social innovations. We all have more choices than ever, whether we're talking about stuff to buy or lifestyles to live. As important, we're all more comfortable (not perfectly comfortable, but more comfortable) with choices and tolerance for other people's choices.

    But, but, but...ROADS.

    How are you going to get all your cheap, Chinese crap delivered to your McMansions without roads? Hmmmm?

  • Paul||

    With my flying car.

  • ||

    The car of freedom.

  • TallDave||

    Is it too soon for Airsteading?

  • smartass||

    Do libertarian dreamers just take their cues from Ken Levine or something?

  • ||

    That's an awesome idea. Libertarians living in the clouds on giant blimps (until floating city technology is perfected). Literally free like the birds.

  • TallDave||

    I highly recommend Amity Shlaes The Forgotten Man. It's becoming fairly influential as the Keynesians continue to discredit their faith.

  • Slut Bunwalla||

    It's a pretty great book. Terrifying too. So much of it could easily apply to what's been happening here in the last three or four years.

  • SIV||

    Liberals and conservatives are used interchangeably for Democrats and Republicans, right wing and left wing, etc.

    God this drives me nuts.

  • SIV||

    Like here:
    As de Rugy herself showed early and often, conservative Bush and a conservative GOP Congress spent more money in real terms than LBJ and his liberal Democratic Congress.

    The only thing keeping "right-wing conservatives" behind Bush was the War(s) and the Democrat alternatives at election time.

  • ||

    I don't think that "right-wing conservatives" and "Pro-Bush Republicans" are synonymous, but surely you must admit an outstanding amount of overlap. And being one doesn't necessarily preclude being the other, after all.

  • SIV||

    The overlap is from partisan instincts.
    A significant component of (American)conservative ideology, as the Democrats AND left both warn, is essentially anti-government.
    As I've stated before in dismissing the notion of a "liberaltarian" alliance, what the left truly hates and fears in the right is their libertarian instincts.

    Collectivism vs individualism. Statism vs anti-statism.

  • ||

    That construction only really works if you carefully define the "statist" causes. A gigantic interventionist military is as statist as ObamaCare. It's the fractional anti-government sentiment of right-wing conservatism that forms one major fracture in RWC/libertarian relations.

    If someone isn't serious about reducing the size of the military, they aren't serious about reducing the size of government.

  • TallDave||

    A gigantic interventionist military is as statist as ObamaCare.

    No, considerably less so. The military doesn't create acres of regulations for non-military citizens. Plus, it keeps the Nazis and the Commies and the jihadis out, and promotes liberty in places like Japan, Germany, France, the UK, Italy, Korea, Iraq, Taiwan...

    To a lot of us, the military is the most useful, least interfering arm of government.

  • Psychic Octopus||

    It's not just the size of the military: it's also how it is used for allowing crony-capitalism (as opposed to truly free market solutions) in the related industries and to expand bureaucracies' clout beyond the necessary.

    I would also add that it is very similar to what guns are in the personal sphere: you want to have one, and a good one, to protect you from aggressors, but it is not advisable to fire it all the time. Neocons want to fire it all the time, which ends up being counterproductive, both in foreign and domestic.

    If it weren't for that, the military would be perfect. As it is, it's not too close to ideal.

  • smartass||

    True, and establishing a large standing army was one of the major goals of the founding fathers, whom conservatives so adore.

  • Zeb||

    We kept the Nazis out without having a huge, world-wide, standing military. If a similar threat prevents itself, we would only be better able now than in the 40s to quickly ramp up necessary defenses.

  • ||

    Exactly. The base did not like and never did like Bush or his family. If 9-11 had never happened, there would have been a right wing primary challenge to Bush, just like what happened to his father, and I bet Bush would have not won re-election.

    The 9-11 dynamic allowed Bush to get away with things like NCLB and the drug benefit. The genius of Rove and the stupidity of the Democrats in 2004 was to allow Bush to paint Kerry as the candidate of surrender. The Democrats are so stupid and their leftwing base was so insane, they let Bush paint them as the peace party. So it was either vote for Bush or vote for surrender in Iraq and appeasement of our enemies. That kept the Republican coalition together.

  • KingTaco||

    "..by linking to Scott Sumner at The Money Illusion, who points out that libertarians have changed liberal minds on many issues ranging from state ownership of industries, price controls, top marginal tax rates, regulatory excess, and more"

    Should read: ...linking to Scott Sumner who glibly assigns every right-ward concession by liberals to a vague 'libertarian' presence. And who says libertarians are self-centered and arrogant?

    However...

    "..participants are constantly mixing levels of discussions (I know I do). Liberals and conservatives are used interchangeably for Democrats and Republicans, right wing and left wing, etc. While the Dems are reliably more liberal (in a contemporary sense) than Republicans, the overlap isn't perfect and many liberals have libertarian or even conservative sympathies. And while their numbers are small, there are in fact libertarian Democrats along with liberal Republicans. Most importantly, how someone governs is probably less a reflection of ideology than other material concerns (there's the Marxist libertarian in me!)."

    Terrific point 1.

    "The real impact of a libertarian sensibility is building a mind-set that privileges autonomy and individual choice, voluntarism, and openness over top-down, coercive systems that force everyone to go along to get along (that sort of single-value system is a hallmark of conservative and liberal thinking, where one calculation of value is forced on everyone, whether we're talking about sexual orientation or health care)."

    Terrific point 2.

  • Mosquevite Sandwich||

    My philosophy on R's and D's is similar to what one of the South Park guys said: very much dislike the war mongering, evangelical, gay-hating conservatives, but FUCKING loathe liberal/progressive statists.

    Besides the endless wars (absolutely a huge deal) every other social defect the conservatives espouse are generational and will eventually die with those generations. But the statists will always have some other human behavior they see fit to regulate through the force (and mythical benevolence) of government. The idea that liberals have come around to some libertarian ideas is a fucking joke and delusional. It's like saying an alcoholic completed the 12 step program, now smokes crack but is no longer an addict. The liberal is like an addict. Get them off price controls and they simply re-up on some government-run healthcare.

  • ||

    Your values pass from your parents. Religious people have more kids than liberals do. If anything I think the secular mindset that grew out of the 1960s will die in a generation or two. Other than acceptance of gay people, I am not sure many of the social liberties that spawned over the last 30 years are going to last. And even acceptance of gays is no guarantee to last. Gay rights is a dead issue among Hispanics, the fastest growing minority. I am not saying that is a good thing. I am just being realistic. There is nothing to say society will always evolve towards tolerance.

  • Psychic Octopus||

    Your values pass from your parents, but they are not immune to social change. Where is the racism of the Jim Crow South, for instance? The racists had kids too.

    However, less optimistically, besides gay tolerance (and racial tolerance, really), I am not sure how much we've advanced in the last 30 years. The advances on pot are perfectly offset by the losses on tobacco. The liberalization of pornography laws and attitudes stopped when feminists joined religious conservatives in fighting it, and the more the feminist side of the coalition pushes it, the less liberals will oppose it (However, technology, read, the interwebz, might be tilting the balance for freedom regardless all anti-porn efforts). What else has been an unqualified and large gain since the 60s? Some parts of the economic agenda, maybe, but even those were parts that many conservatives of the 60s would have agreed to.

  • smartass||

    Your genes pass from your parents, your values pass from your environment, more generally. If TV or teachers or church leaders make up a more significant part of your environment than parents, your values will not pass from parents. And, most people educate themselves empirically, to some extent. Intelligent people and freethinkers moreso than others.

  • ||

    Besides the endless wars (absolutely a huge deal) every other social defect the conservatives espouse are generational and will eventually die with those generations. I imagine pot will be legal by, like, 1985, man. And everyone will be totally cool about religion, because it's only the old-timers who believe in an angry God that tells them to oppress people.

  • ||

    Also don't forget the effects of immigration. The rest of the world outside of Western Europe is a hell of a lot less socially tolerant than they average Americans.

    Only cosmotarians are dumb enough to believe that those people are going to leave their values at the border.

  • Warty||

  • Old Mexican||

    Re: John,

    Only cosmotarians are dumb enough to believe that those people are going to leave their values at the border[.]

    Depends on what you mean by values. I did not leave my values at the border, for sure, but I have this itching suspicion that they are pretty much the same as YOURS.

    Yet, I still consider americanized Mexican food to be inedible.

  • ||

    Anyone who has been to Mexico considers americanized Mexican food to be inedible. What the hell is up with your people? Why can they only make decent food at home? You know how many bad Mexican restaurants I have been to that were run by Mexicans? I just don't get it.

    Most societies in the world and most people in the world are pretty intolerant. I would like to think that America is this magical place that makes people tolerant once they get here. But, I honestly can't think of a reason why that would be true.

  • Warty||

    I would like to think that America is this magical place that makes people tolerant once they get here. But, I honestly can't think of a reason why that would be true.

    Inasmuch as that was ever true, it has to be because of peace and prosperity here. If you're an immigrant and you spend all your time working to make money so you can have a car, you're going to be a lot less hateful than your cousins back in the old country who have nothing better to do than listen to rantings about the Jews keeping them down.

    So as we continue to get less free and if we get a lot poorer, we'll hate each other as much as any Eurotrash. Don't you worry.

  • Old Mexican||

    Re: John,

    Anyone who has been to Mexico considers americanized Mexican food to be inedible. What the hell is up with your people? Why can they only make decent food at home?

    There's more love at home, I guess. . .

    You know how many bad Mexican restaurants I have been to that were run by Mexicans? I just don't get it.

    I don't get it either, unless they are not really Mexicans. If they don't make their own tortillas in a hot, thin plate (like a 55GL drum cover), then they are not Mexican.

    Most societies in the world and most people in the world are pretty intolerant.

    Just ask the Swedes. And I am being serious.

    I would like to think that America is this magical place that makes people tolerant once they get here. But, I honestly can't think of a reason why that would be true.

    I don't either. If it were like that, there would not be gun shows. But don't get me wrong, if I had the choice of intolerant lands, I much rather be in one where you can own guns - just ask the British.

  • ||

    I think part of it is, that a Mexican either has to be at home or running some kind of a vending truck to make good food. There are some Mexicans here in Washington that sell tacos out of the back of a truck. And those things are incredible. I think if you put those guys in a real restaurant with a kitchen they wouldn't know what to do.

  • ChrisO||

    In Washington, they're more likely to be Salvadoran or Honduran. If you see the word "pupusa" on the menu of the roach coach in question, it's probably not Mexican.

  • ||

    I have talked to them. They are Mexicans.

  • ChrisO||

    Where were they? Because I sure as hell would like to find some decent Mexican food around here. I'm not as big on Salvadoran food.

  • smartass||

    You can't trust those Salvadorans and Hondurans to tell the truth, though.

  • Psychic Octopus||

    Why can they only make decent food at home?

    They leave the cooking abilities at the border.

  • ||

    Pedantic point:

    Libertarians disagree with progressives about markets and with conservatives about "values",

    I think the fundamental libertarian disagreement with conservatives isn't so much about "values", as it is about whether/when and how the State should enforce values.

    Non-pedantic point:

    The United States (and most of the world) is vastly more libertian than it ever has been, thanks to economic, technological, and social innovations.

    Not if you view libertarianism as a political philosophy concerned primarily with the scope of State power.

    The real impact of a libertarian sensibility is building a mind-set that privileges autonomy and individual choice, voluntarism, and openness over top-down, coercive systems

    Sure, but I don't see anything but expansion of top-down coercive systems in the US. People garble on about autonomy and choice, but being able to choose from among dozens of different cell phones does not offset the ever-encroaching Behemoth State.

  • Hate Potion Number Nine||

    "...being able to choose from among dozens of different cell phones does not offset the ever-encroaching Behemoth State."

    It's consumerism that's done your philosophy in not communism. The ability to stuff one's face and indulge every urge and to have any service performed for a few bucks has turned Americans into helpless, useless children who believe in unlimited consumption without production. They all pay for everything else to be done for them, so why not pay taxes in exchange for not thinking? Why not leave the responsibility for someone else and then curse that someone else for good measure?

    But you all dare not face that truth, do you?

  • Zeb||

    You are right to the extent that consumerism is sold as a substitute for real freedom. There is nothing wrong or anti-libertarian about consumerism if people really have freedom in their economic decisions.

  • ¢||

    The United States (and most of the world) is vastly more libertian than it ever has been, thanks to economic, technological, and social innovations.

    Why you gotta just lie?

    Non-interaction with the state—having a life without the state's continually renewed imprimatur—is all but impossible for all but those who hold themselves violently outside its reach.
    "But look! A gay-married guy with a pot card! He's smiling!"
    Jesus Christ.

  • ||

    You want to be sad look at life in 1905.. There was no income tax. You could transport money across borders with impunity. You pretty much could conduct about any economic activity you wanted without government interference.

    Yeah, I know minorities and women didn't have equal rights. But couldn't we have fixed that without taking away all of the other rights?

  • ||

    "Yeah, I know minorities and women didn't have equal rights. But couldn't we have fixed that without taking away all of the other rights?"
    I wish we had fixed that.

  • ||

    We fixed it to a large degree. The transformation of this society has been just amazing. You forget how bad it really was back then.

  • TallDave||

    Coolidge in '12!

    Well, without the trade policy.

  • Slap the Enlightened!||

    Yeah, I know minorities and women didn't have equal rights. But couldn't we have fixed that without taking away all of the other rights?

    It always astonishes me when someone conflates "equal" with "free".

    The concepts are not related. In fact, they're adversarial.

    Never trust a man who has liberty on his lips, and an equal sign in his pocket.

  • Gene Berkman||

    Our modern concept of liberty was defined by Herbert Spencer as "The Law of Equal Liberty." Each person has an equal right to use their own talents and energies for their own benefit, and an equal right to do what they want to do, as long as they don't take away the equal right to do so from any other person.

    That is the libertarian concept of equal rights.

    The anti-egalitarian here has a link to the American Third Position website - a carryover of European authoritarian nationalism, having nothing in coming with libertarians or limited government conservatives.

  • smartass||

    They're only adversarial in the extremes. They go hand in hand at more moderate levels. Most forms of deprivation of liberty inherently create an inequality between oppressor and oppressed, after all.

    Generally, when egalitarians fight against artificial (i.e., forcibly imposed) inequality, they are allies of liberty, and when they fight against the inequality that arises due to differences in natural ability or quality of choices, they are its enemies (also, generally, they are increasingly impractical as they go to farther extremes in doing so).

  • Zeb||

    The problem is that equality is used in two very different ways. Equaliity under the law is compatible with and necessary for freedom. Equality of outcome is antithetical to freedom.

  • ||

    libertarians have changed liberal minds on many issues ranging from state ownership of industries, price controls, top marginal tax rates, regulatory excess, and more.

    The fuck they have. Seriously, this is just nonsense. Nobody's changes any liberal minds on any of those issues.

  • Gene Berkman||

    Libertarianism is also useful as a reference point. When a conservative comes out for legalizing marijuana, he can say "I'm a libertarian on that issue."

    Or when a conservative comes out for equality in marriage, he can say "it's the libertarian in me." No Homo.

  • Murkowski||

    Vote for me to be the libertarian senator from alaska.

  • SIV||

    Could the LP damage the brand more?

  • Brett L||

    I blame Barr. Now every failed Republican and his daughter is going to try the Libertarian route.

  • Ebeneezer Scrooge||

    If you take even the most conservative estimate of a semi-libertarian electorate (say 10 percent)....

    then you will have one of the most wildly inflated figures I've seen since the Dems rammed ObamaCare through.


    emphasizing the enormous shift in the general zeitgeist over the past 75 or so years from a standard liberal one to a much-more libertarian one.

    Yes, it's true, if you close your eyes and pretend that it's a nice sunny day outside, you will have a much nicer dream.


    And Ron Paul put foreign policy on the last POTUS election? Yerrrr just sooooo funny. Ron Paul walked into the RNC and proceeded to shoot himself in the right foot. He immediately followed up by shooting himself in the left foot. Way to go RP!

    And then we've got this Tea Party thing going on that's sorta-kinda-maybe connected to Ron Paul in some vague and undefinable way. But it's had no real leaders and no real voice, and the response around here was "Well, I hope it never has leaders."

    That wish has coming true. And the Tea Party wave hit the beach a long time ago. All you're seeing now, is the foam and froth running back down the sand to whence it came.

    McCain's gaffe that we'd still be in Iraq 100 years from now if that's what it takes, was a) far more effective at bringing foreign policy to the debate than anything Ron Paul even dreamed of doing, b) was the single most honest and truthful statement made by any candidate during the last POTUS campaign, and c) was yet another reason McCain lost.

    Our political system does not reward honesty. If you ever want your sunny-day dreams to become reality, the first thing that must done is -- kill "democratic" elections as we know them. Our politicians are only doing what the system they must work within rewards.

  • fendi bags||

    What we need is less laws (for cops to use to abuse people), less cops, and more accountability (always being filmed, etc.), and a complete end to cop unions.

  • burberry scarf||

    vlibertarians have changed liberal minds on many issues ranging from state ownership of industries, price controls, top marginal tax rates, regulatory excess, and more.

  • bags||

    They're only adversarial in the extremes. They go hand in hand at more moderate levels. Most forms of deprivation of liberty inherently create an inequality between oppressor and oppressed, after all.

  • Not an armpit||

    If you want to be a libertarian and DO something... I highly suggest the Free State Project. Libertarians (small l) getting elected and making a difference.
    And anarchists as well.. making a difference.
    Something for everyone!

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