Posted by Peter Lawler
They are, says Michael Kinsley. A simple libertarian-communitarian realignment is unlikely, but the more libertarian of the two parties will increasingly have the advantages. And that’s the Democrats.
True, the Republicans haven't done much to keep libertarians happy in the past decade or so, but I still can't imagine them going over to the party that's flirting with socialized medicine. Republicans would have to do far less in order to keep the libertarian vote than Democrats would have to in order to win them over.
By the way, libertarians are deeply divided on the abortion issue. It's by no means clear to me that the GOP's pro-life stand is hurting the party in this respect. Sure, they find the Republican stance on issues like stem-cell research irritating, and might even encourage them to stay home in Election Day, but that's not nearly enough to get them to embrace the Dems.
The Democratic party is "the more libertarian"? HUH? Say WHAT? Surely, Professor, you are merely paraphrasing Kinsley, not offering your own view?
Good for the Complacently Darwinian Smart Loners. But Kinsley is obviously having fun... If he is a smart writter he is actually suggesting the opposite of what he appears to say. The Complacently Darwinian smart loner will never be a force in politics. There just will never be enough milionaire entrepreneurs...unless we inflate our currency at an unprecedented level...in which case everyone might be a millionaire but no one could be so complacently. In fact he is playing with the word communitarian as much as the word libertarian. I could retort rather quickly that whatever this "Communitarianism" is it favors the Democrats. Perhaps the largest group of Libertarians outside of people who have actually read Hayek or Mises or subscribe to Reason magazine are the legalize pot smoking hippie types. But really these folk are the "communitarians" they just believe pot is good. If you don't believe me go into waterbeds+stuff or some similar hippie type store and talk to whoever is working there. Or go to one of those weird shops that sell crystals around Oberlin. I bet you have some far out conversations inhaling that incense of ganga. Really by putting up a picture of Ron Paul with that article he suggests to me that the true force behind Ron Paul are the communitarian/anti-war/ environmentalist/legalize pot type libertarians.
If Ron Paul is out the race then these communitarian type libertarians will vote for the Democrats.
I know the semi-libertarian/conservative Michelle Malkin is from Oberlin, but is Oberlin a republican or conservative hot bed? It is certainly the best example of communitarianism in Ohio with the exception being Yellow Springs near Dayton, Ohio. What about Ithica New York and its Ecovillage? If Communitarianism is the opposite of Libertarianism...(which I dispute) but going with this thesis why are most of the prominent Communitarian communities solidly in the democrat camp?(Do I need to back this up by looking at how Ithaca votes?)
If the opposite of Libertarians are communitarians and the Communitarians are solidly democrat/third party independent then Libertarians are solidly republican/third party independent.
In some of these communitarian communities Al Gore is seen as being too market oriented and willing to compromise on the environment, which makes some sense when you think that to some Libertarians George Bush is a Socialist.
Really if we have to split the Libertarians down the middle...and I didn't want to do it organically from the arguments of its proponents...then I would use Fukuyama. Isothymic Libertarians vs. Megalothymic Libertarians.
Starting with the Isothymic Libertarians: ACLU Libertarians, anti-war libertarians, theologically-liberal christian libertarians, Emma Lazarus on immigration quoting Libertarians, Communitarian/Libertarians, some Paleo-libertarians.
The Megalothymic Libertarians: pro-war goldwater libertarians, ACU Libertarians, The Ayn Rand institute, Capitalism Magazine.(a lot of libertarians may be left out) For an interesting view of the contrast between those who are Isothymic and those who are Megalothymic one could read Fukuyama or one could read the entire context of Lazarus poem on the New Colossus vs. what Ayn Rand said was the meaning of the statue of Liberty.
Of course actual people who consider themselves libertarians have both isothymic and megalothymic impulses and aspirations. Which is partially why Libertarianism is not the opposite of Communitarianism which is generally borne out of a primarily isothymic impulse but need not be. But for the sake of simplification as Kinsley says you can make Communitarianism out to be Isothymic and Libertarianism out to be Megalothymic, of course you could also make democrats out to be isothymic and republicans out to be Megalothymic which isn't too far from the common everyday steriotypes.If you want to countinue this train you could say that neo-cons are isothymic on social issues and immigration but megalothymic on national defense, while paleo-cons are the opposite.
Of course the entire process of classifying political positions as isothymic or megalothymic depends almost exclusively on perspective which is why to some people Bush is a nazi and a heartless cruel selfish capitalistic megalothymic prick, while to others he is a crunchy isothymic socialist big government liberal. Which brings me to Rawls argument for Libertarianism...which may or may not have libertarians voting for Democrats.
Essentially here is the problem: if you define libertarians in such a way that what is a libertarian isn't inclined towards how you define the democrat position then you answer your own question irespective of whether or not any such libertarians exist which correspond to your definition of libertarian, or how such would see or understand the democrat position. So Dr. Moser says if it is a libertarian it is not likely to vote for a democrat. But a democrat leaning libertarian says if it is a libertarian it is not likely to vote for a republican. If you define a libertarian by reference to the positions of Von Mises then you can get a certain answer. But if your definition is narrow enough to be meaningfull it might be too narrow in its presumptions of hierachy to be accurate. I think Dr. Moser is right, but I also think that the number of "libertarians", "conservatives", "Christians" "anything else you wish to define" is either greatly exagerated numerically or else so broad in definition that it is beyond articulate comprehension. This is part of what I mean when I say that americans are polytheistic...they are not accurately captured by a single label, that should theoretically be more descriptive than it oftentimes turns out to be.
I like the idea of ranking libertarians on the thymos-meter. Thanks, John.
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