Thoughts, essays, and writings on Liberty. Written by the heirs of Patrick Henry.

“Complete equality means universal irresponsibility.”     T. S. Elliot

March 23, 2006

There Maybe Hope For Them Yet

by Kevin

From a recent Jonah Goldberg column in NRO:

A bunch of readers wanted to know what I meant when I said that my views on “libertarianism” have “evolved” since my earlier, full-throated, attacks. Well, for starters, I no longer make jokes like: “Q: What’s the hardest part about being a libertarian? A: Telling your parents you’re gay.”

Again, more seriously, as I’ve watched compassionate conservatism, Buchananism, Crunchy Conservatism, and similar movements bubble-up since the end of the Cold War, I think it’s better for everybody concerned if we start from a foundation of libertarianism and build up from it. In public policy — as opposed to cultural politics — I think the default position should be libertarian and then arguments should be made for why we should deviate from libertarian dogma. I’m more sympathetic to arguments based on tradition and custom than your average libertarian. But I’m more hostile than I used to be to what you might call neo-traditionalism in the forms of “national greatness” conservatism, Buchananism, Crunchy Conservatism, and the rest. I am extremely susceptible to nostalgia, but intellectually I think it is more often than not a poison to clear thinking. Starting from libertarian assumptions puts you in a better place to identify nostalgic toxins. My problem with the so-called paleolibertarians is that they are often more nostalgic than the conservatives they denounce.

The beginnings of our conservative friends having some sense knocked into them, or what? Discuss.

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1 Comment

  1. Has he changed, or has libertarianism become more mainstream?

    There is a reason The Liberty Papers is called a classical liberal blog, and not a libertarian blog. Eric explained it well here. There are ties, to be sure, and to many people outside the general “small-l libertarian” fold, it is easier to describe our entire camp as “libertarian”. Part of the reason I find myself self-describing as a classical liberal is not that I’ve changed, but there are elements in the LP that I want to disassociate with.

    But I think the “small-l” camp is growing, and instead of just seeing a bunch of drug-using pacifists who want to tear down the state, they’re seeing some adults. I think libertarianism has started to gain some respectability, because there are people (largely in the blogosphere) advocating smartly and with strong argument for liberty. As the state grows, and further encroaches on our rights, more and more respectable people start describing as “libertarian”.

    Comment by Brad Warbiany — March 24, 2006 @ 1:29 pm

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