True Libertarians: Fanatics and Extremists

Why are Libertarians considered to be fanatics and Extremists?

As Hans-Hermann Hoppe notes, robust Libertarianism goes hand in hand with robust conservatism.

The John Randolph Club was a coalition of two distinct groups of intellectuals. On the one hand was a group of anarcho-capitalist Austro-libertarians, led by Rothbard, mostly of economists but also philosophers, lawyers, historians and sociologists (mostly of a more analytical-theoretical bend of mind). I was a member of this group. On the other hand was a group of writers associated with the conservative monthly Chronicles: A Magazine of American Culture and its editor, Tom Fleming. Paul Gottfried was a member of that group. The conservative group did not have any economist of note and generally displayed a more empirical bend of mind. Apart from historians and sociologists, it included in particular also men of letters: of philologists, literary writers, and cultural critics.

On the libertarian side, the cooperation with conservatives was motivated by the insight that while libertarianism may be logically compatible with many cultures, sociologically it requires a conservative, bourgeois core culture. The decision to form an intellectual alliance with conservatives then involved for the libertarians a double break with “Establishment Libertarianism” as represented, for instance, by the Washington DC “free market” Cato Institute.

This Establishment Libertarianism was not only theoretically in error, with its commitment to the impossible goal of limited government (and centralized government at that): it was also sociologically flawed, with its anti-bourgeois—indeed, adolescent—so-called “cosmopolitan” cultural message: of multiculturalism and egalitarianism, of “respect no authority”, of “live-and-let-live”, of hedonism and libertinism.

The anti-establishment Austro-libertarians sought to learn more from the conservative side about the cultural requirements of a free and prosperous commonwealth. And by and large they did and learned their lesson. At least, I think that I did.

For the conservative side of the alliance, the cooperation with the Austrian anarcho-capitalists signified a complete break with the so-called neoconservative movement that had come to dominate organized conservatism in the US and which was represented, for instance, by such Washington DC think tanks as the American Enterprise Institute and the Heritage Foundation. The paleo-conservatives, as they came to be known, opposed the neo-conservative goal of a highly and increasingly centralized, “economically efficient” welfare-warfare State as incompatible with the traditional conservative core values of private property, of family and family households, and of local communities and their protection. There were some points of contention between the paleo-cons and the libertarians: on the issues of abortion and immigration and on the definition and necessity of government. But these differences could be accommodated in agreeing that their resolution must not be attempted on the level of the central state or even some supra-national institution such as the UN, but always on the smallest level of social organization: on the level of families and of local communities.

It’s a hostility to this robust conservatives that unities Left-Liberals, Neoconservatives, and Randian individualists in their hostility to Libertarianism. For Any Rand, Marxism was preferable:

Q: What do you think of the Libertarian movement? [FHF: “The Moratorium on Brains,” 1971]

AR: All kinds of people today call themselves “libertarians,” especially something calling itself the New Right, which consists of hippies, except that they’re anarchists instead of collectivists. But of course, anarchists are collectivists. Capitalism is the one system that requires absolute objective law, yet they want to combine capitalism and anarchism. That is worse than anything the New Left has proposed. It’s a mockery of philosophy and ideology. They sling slogans and try to ride on two bandwagons. They want to be hippies, but don’t want to preach collectivism, because those jobs are already taken. But anarchism is a logical outgrowth of the anti-intellectual side of collectivism. I could deal with a Marxist with a greater chance of reaching some kind of understanding, and with much greater respect. The anarchist is the scum of the intellectual world of the left, which has given them up. So the right picks up another leftist discard. That’s the Libertarian movement.

For the Liberal Conservative Neocons, Managerialism is.

In general, a society has three main interacting vectors: the political (y), social (z), and economic (x).
The political deals with individual representation in policy making, the social with how social behavior is regulated, and the economic with how goods are distributed. With regards to the social, behavior is either regulated through norms or they are managed through the state. Since both Neocons and Randian individualists rejected the traditional Western normative regulations — though the former don’t seem to mind the apparently more suitable, Multicultural kind — they had to accept managerialism. That way they could have a relatively free econopolitical system, without having what they felt to be an oppressive social system. Left-Liberals, of course, find the relatively free nature of the economic system intolerable, as it leads to too many economic disparities, so also push for a more managed economy.

Libertarianism, in rejecting managerialism, necessarily embraces a core robust conservatism.

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