Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

Libertarian Democrats?

Over at The Remedy, Josh Trevino (sorry I can’t do the ~ over the n) notes Markos Moulitsas’ paean to "libertarian Democrats", which is, of course, so full of qualifications as to be incoherent. Trevino notes this response and adds:

If the libertarian feels that he must become a Democrat, then one is hard-pressed to make a heartfelt plea on ideological or philosophical grounds for him to stay. In any case, he will experience the true regard that the Democratic party has for him soon enough. He will find himself in the company of people who do not grasp the connection between capitalism and freedom; he will find himself attending party meetings with neighbors who wish nothing more than to seize his household income for their own civic purposes; he will realize that his new fellow-travelers have not the slightest intention of allowing him to raise his children as he sees fit; and he will see Markos Moulitsas, having concluded that beekeepers are the next swing demographic, earnestly explain how he learned to be a Democrat by watching bees.

Here, I think, is the bottom line, intended to offend any libertarian reader: what Moulitsas’ essay shows is that strict libertarianism is probably impossible. If you worry about corporate power, you can’t really be a libertarian. If you care about individual empowerment, to the extent that it depends upon the extension of science and technology, you can’t be a strict libertarian: the extension of science and technology depends upon big science, which depends upon either big corporations, big government, or both. Genuine libertarianism would seem to require a measure of crunchiness.

Discussions - 5 Comments

Even I’m not that hard on libertarians. The presence of excessive (demonstrable) "externalities" (i.e., the exercise of rights that interfere with those of others) could easily lead a libertarian to take issue with big corporations, etc. Unfortunately, many (most?) libertarians are way too ideological (i.e., market-worshipping) to ever recognize such externalities (at least, in my experience). Nonetheless, there is nothing that theoretically contradictory in being libertarian and (narrowly) anti-corporate or anti-science.

You’re right: as I said, there can be crunchy libertarians.

Knippenberg’s questions about the possibility of consistent libertarianism make an embarrassingly elementary logical mistake: The assumption that a libertarian cannot deplore, and try to reduce, trends that he doesn’t believe government should or can do much about.

Trevino’s comment, as cited, is far more to the point -- and should be used liberally against any fool who claims to be both a "libertarian" and a Democrat, or any "libertarian" who prefers the Democrats.

Markos Moulistas’s makes good points. Any thinking without qualification gives up in accuracy what it gains in coherence. A republican in Montana is different from a republican in New Jersey and a Democrat in California is different than a Democrat in Idaho. To suggest that all republicans are equally "conservative" or that all democrats are equally "progressive" is to give carte blanche. Truth be told Libertarians can’t afford to support any political party without qualification(neither can conservatives or anyone with even half a mind.) That is like saying that all games that have the Nintendo seal of approval are "good". Or that anything John Lewis says is libertarian... I could give two shits if it is...I would never appologize for being conservative or progressive or libertarian or even Marxist, that is a matter for your identification, that frankly doesn’t concern me. When I defend Markets I do so from an Austrian perspective. Why? because it is the strongest argument in my opinion...and in any question I am debating I want the strongest argument to win. In this sense them I am the anti-partisan...I want to make the best distinctions possible...in this sense then I am also anti-science...in that I do not want my thinking structured by Ontological premises that remain beyond the scope of examination. So if you want to call me crunchy go for it... but I won’t be comming over to eat smores and do trust falls...and if you call me crunchy in the context of food then I will probably punch you in self defense, because I dislike Cannibalism. But then again the Crunchies are all "the democrats" according to my ontological perspective...as are all people who are caught up by excessive isothymia...to include a lot of christians who think they are "conservative"...so it is all about how you define "is".

Are some Democrats returning to their 19th century roots, when they reflected Jefferson to Jackson, instead of today's pursuit of Rousseau and Marx, as cited in a new book, THE CHANGING FACE OF DEMOCRATS on Amazon and www.claysamerica.com? Can we hope?

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