Friday, August 7, 2009

Wayne Allyn Root and the conservative hijacking of libertarianism

There's a great review of Wayne Allyn Root's latest snoozefest over at Takimag.

I for one am sick and tired of conservatives trying to pass themselves off as "libertarians" when they aren't. And a lot of leftists, knowing little about the libertarian philosophy, take them at their word.

So in case anyone is ignorant enough to believe the two philosophies are the same thing (or even close), let's go over some of the major issues that divide conservatives and libertarians.

1) Libertarians are militantly antiwar without exception. There is absolutely no such thing as a pro-war "libertarian."

If you've ever met a self-described "libertarian" who supported the invasion of Iraq (cough), guess what? He is just another delusional conservative who does not know the meaning of term. "Libertarian" of course is just a word, and anyone can use a word. But anyone who is calling himself a "libertarian" while supporting wars of aggression, military intervention or foreign aid is in complete contradiction with the most basic tenets and history of libertarian philosophy. Hell, even looking up the word "libertarian" in the dictionary is enough to show that a pro-war libertarian is a complete oxymoron if there ever was one.

Look hard enough and you probably be able to find a pro-war "libertarian," just as you may be able to find a pro-life Marxist. What more is there to say? They're freaks.

2) Libertarians are against ANY restrictions on what consenting adults can do. Yes, that includes X, Y and Z. (Horrors!)

It is not enough to say that one supports "state's rights" on the issue of "medical marijuana." Libertarians are against the entire war on drugs without exception. Yes, that includes meth, heroin, cocaine and whatever other horrible drugs you can think of. And yes, this applies to every level of government, not just the "federal government." The same principle also applies to prostitution, assisted suicide, gay marriage, polygamy, pornography, gambling, immigration and other victimless crimes.

How many conservatives agree with this? Good luck finding them!

3) There can be "leftist" forms of libertarianism.

Nobody but an idiot could possibly believe famous libertarians like Lysander Spooner or Benjamin Tucker were "conservatives." There are (and have been) many libertarians who prefer "socialistic" arrangements to "capitalistic" arrangements. From Keith Preston's essay, Beyond Conservatism:

Walter Block explains:

“…it is of the utmost importance to realize that libertarianism by no means implies a capitalist means of organization. We totally and adamantly reject the view that private property rights logically implies a capitalist mode. Instead, we assert that libertarianism is every bit as compatible with socialism as it is with capitalism. “…the relevant distinction is not between socialism and capitalism, but between voluntarism and coercion. The major combatants on the field thus are not socialism vs. capitalism, but rather voluntary socialism, together with voluntary capitalism on the one side, arrayed against the evil forces of coercive socialism and coercive capitalism, in unholy alliance, on the other.”(69)

...“By socialism I understand adherence to the familiar Marxian doctrine ‘from each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs’; as well as the view that all property (or at least all capital goods) shall be held in common. But the crucial question for libertarianism is whether these socialistic perspectives are put into effect on a voluntary or on a coercive basis…”(70)
...Examples of voluntary socialism include “…the kibbutz, the cooperative, the commune, the (voluntary) labor union, the Hutterite colony, the monastery, etc. The typical nuclear family, moreover, is a (voluntary) socialist commune! All members of the family consume not in accordance with their ability to earn, but based on their needs. The parents may earn the entire income, but certainly do not consume it all; the (young) children earn none of it, but consume on the basis of their needs.”(71)

4) Libertarians are harsh critics of the police, military and "criminal justice" system.

Conservatives want to give them all more power to abuse and more prisons to throw their victims in.

5) Libertarians oppose the current economic order.

It's not a free market. It's a plutocracy that could not survive without the state.

I hope this clears a few things up.


  1. I'm a constitutionalist - not a libertarian.

    It doesn't mean that I identify with any political party as presently constituted.

    It means that the Party System has lost is way. There is no possible reconciliation between socialism and capitalism that can endure in a free society.

  2. I don't mean to gush, but this really is an awesome site. Reading this article really pumped me up. I've happily added "Skeptical Eye" to my blogroll.

    I, too, am sick of all these pro-war "libertarians." And I'm also sick of all these conservatives who have suddenly realized that big government's not a good thing. For eight years, they supported pretty much everything Bush did, but now that Obama is in office they suddenly think that government's an evil. I personally want nothing to do with these creeps; they might be saying a lot of right things now, but once a Republican's back in the White House they'll again become a bunch of statists.

    By the way, I found the explanation from Walter Block very helpful. For some reason, I never before understand how one could be an anarchist who favored socialism, but now it makes perfect sense.

  3. Thanks a bunch Don! Glad you like it!

  4. Good stuff, Cork. You hit the nail on the head.

  5. Another outstanding post, Cork!


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