Libertarians are just republicans who want to smoke weed.When Kerry Howley made the irrefutable and yet quixotic point that any proper concern with liberty, whether practical or, ahem, merely philosophical, must grapple with the strictures of cultural mores and social conventions, for they affect the lives and freedom of those individuals with whose liberty libertarianism supposedly concerns itself equally to and sometimes more than the official acts and proscriptions and promulgations of the government-même, I made no comment, because honestly, this again? I like and respect Kerry. She is probably smarter than I am. I am sure she looks better in heels. Her efforts along these lines are perhaps noble, but nonetheless doomed. It is not so much that they lack merit--on the merits, she is correct--as that they make a sort of category error. The problem is not that many libertarians are unwilling to consider the broader implications of their philosophy, but rather, that libertarianism is not a philosophy, not even a "political ideology," as the more careful bet-hedgers might have it.
It is instead a lame, purely American third-party movement that sometimes appropriates the trappings of ideology in order to justify self-perpetuation in the face of a plurality-takes-all electoral system wholely inimical to minor parties. In reality, it is no more an ideology, let alone a philosophy, than is "Democrat" or "Republican." It is moderately more consistent than either major American political party because it has no constituency. In the absence of a coalition, coherence. This is nothing to brag about. Still yet, as Eugene Volokh et al. so often and ably demonstrate, in the classic Henley sumnation:
It’s not like Eugene Volokh thinks much of me, either, but I’ve always considered his specialty to be showy moral handwringing on the way to siding with Power anyway.This is particularly apropos because Will Wilkinson finds Ilya Somin, who is not quite the patented moron as that blog's eponymous proprietor, undermining any notion that libertarianism constitutes anything other than an uproariously unsuccessful effort to turn classic American anti-Federal paranoia into a difference-splitting political third way that abjures both the moral paternalism of Republicans and the economic paternalism of Democrats (whatever any of that means) and thus gathers all together toward a new gilded age. Or something. Somin writes:
These points are distinct from Todd Seavey’s tactical argument in his critique of Kerry, where he points out that identification with one set of cultural values is likely to drive away potential allies for libertarianism. If libertarians are seen as aligned with cultural liberalism, it is likely to alienate cultural conservatives, and vice versa. Linking libertarianism to a narrow cultural agenda would be a mistake similar to Ayn Rand’s insistence that libertarianism entails atheism — a stance that did much to alienate potential supporters who were religious. At the same time, cultural “wedge issues” sometimes do make for good political strategy.To which I say, Oh, please. Even a bastard term like "political ideology" encompasses more than mere coalition-building. The phrase "alienate potential supporters" is a dead giveaway.
I think it is high time that people like Kerry, who are rightly and righteously concerned with actual liberty, the actual freedom of human beings as individuals to construct and determine the paths of their own lives within their own families, communities, and countries, behave in their own rational best interest and stop calling themselves libertarians. I did! It was not difficult. Indeed, I would go so far as to call it . . . liberating to be unyoked from the ceaseless burden of shit-polishing. Libertarianism is the plaything of cossetted white Americans. That is a fact. In its relentless insistence on state-supremacy, it commits precisely the sin that Kerry identifies: it reifies that which it claims to seek to undermine. It is narrow and parochial, American. What has libertarianism got to say about life within failed states, or clerical democracies, or about Japan, or China, or Myanmar, or Nepal, or occupied Palestine, or Israel, or South Africa? What has it got to say about the construction of community, the nature of cooperative endeavor in the absence of coercion? Most libertarians aren't even willing to accept that property, their central fetish, is itself a cultural artifact, not a constant of nature.
And if the question finally becomes: well, then, what will we call ourselves? Then I suggest a question in reply: why must you call yourselves anything at all?