Defining the Anti-War Right: Dan McCarthy & The American Conservative Magazine


One of the patron saints of modern conservativism, Russell Kirk, dismissed libertarians as "chirping sectaries." One of the patron saints of modern libertarianism, Murray Rothbard, derided conservatism that all-too-often argued for a "blind and tropistic defense of whatever status quo that happens to exist."

To paraphrase the opening of the old Odd Couple TV show: Can these two ideologies share a magazine without driving each other crazy?

Daniel McCarthy, editor in chief of The American Conservative, says yes in thunder. "We're the non-movement conservatives, the individualist conservatives, says McCarthy. "We've certainly got an element of the Russell Kirk stuff. We also have an element of the radical Rothbardian libertarians. We bring them together and let them fight it out and make things as lively as possible."

After years of financial uncertainty, McCarthy has brought AmCon back by creating an eclectic fusion of conservative and libertarian ideas. Opposing Bush-era foreign policy and criticizing mainstream conservatism, McCarthy's American Conservative is dedicated to keeping alive the Right's history of non-interventionism in both its pre-World War II and anti-Cold War versions. At the same time, the magazine has little patience for the sort of "lifestyle libertarianism" that it sees too much of in the pages of Reason and elsewhere in the libertarian movement.

Reason's Nick Gillespie sat down with McCarthy at FreedomFest in July. Held each July in Las Vegas, FreedomFest is attended by around 2,000 limited-government enthusiasts and libertarians a year. Reason.tv spoke with over two-dozen speakers and attendees and will be releasing interviews over the coming weeks.

About 5 minutes. Shot by Zach Weissmueller and Jim Epstein; edited by Joshua Swain.

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