Our friend James Poulos explores the cultural contradictions of liberaltarianism (apologies to Daniel Bell), focusing on what he provocatively calls the Sex Vote.
Such is the logic of the Sex Vote—the population of practical liberaltarians for whom the exercise of erotic liberty in fulfillment of their capabilities far outweighs in importance any exercise of political liberty, so content are they with a government that delivers sexual freedom (and perhaps some minimum of attendant social services). For the Sex Vote, eliminating the day-to-day drudgery of citizenship itself counts high among social services: outsourcing the detail and difficulty of governance to distant, centralized experts is a feature, not a bug, of ‘unaccountable’ government. In its liberaltarianism, the Sex Vote would solve once and for all Wilde’s paradox (the trouble with socialism is it takes too many evenings). In the world that we live in, captivated by erotic liberty, such is the destiny of ’smart citizenship’ and representative government.
If you grant that sex is more important than politics, or that one of the principal purposes of politics is to protect and indeed enlarge sexual freedom, might you not be tempted to acquiesce in a paternalistic government that frees you from the drudgery of self-government so that you can have more time for private gratification?
I’d ask another question as well: doesn’t the pursuit of self-gratification in all its forms undermine the responsibility necessary for vindicating one’s liberty? Doesn’t self-government reuire character? Older libertarians were in a sense aristocratic in their assumption that genuine libertarianism was a pleasure for the few who had the backbone for it. Their younger counterparts lack any vestige of that old assumption, which libertarian theory already worked to undermine.