UPDATE II: Libertarianism Lite Likely Won’t Cut It

Constitution,IMMIGRATION,Individual Rights,Left-Liberalism And Progressivisim,libertarianism,Liberty,Political Philosophy,Pop-Culture,Ron Paul,Sex,Terrorism,The Zeitgeist


Some libertarians dream that the establishment-endorsed libertarianism-lite, currently being touted on Fox News- and Business as the only legitimate strand of libertarianism, will catch-on in this America. Dream on.

Liberty loving adults in the US tend not to identify with fast-talking youths, wearing trendy eye-wear, who insist that the cultural foot-and-mouth that is “Glee” and Gaga is the very essence of American freedoms and liberties. (Anyone who has ever read this space knows that I don’t have any objection to risque expression; only to artistically worthless cultural products.)

Granted, life-style libertarians come in all shapes and sizes; they are often older, but are always juvenile. In the country’s founding documents, they divine all kinds of exhortations to let it all hang out. Much as the Left does.

If I’ve learned anything about what remains of Middle America, it is that ordinary, gun-toting, homeschooling, bible-thumping Americans are unmoved by people who draw their paycheques from foundations, think tanks, and academia, and wax orgiastic about MTV and Dennis Rodman. Although it might appear sophisticated, this stuff is reductive and shallow—a kind of post-graduate cleverness that lacks any philosophical depth.

Life, liberty, property: that’s what negative liberty is all about. The rest is either fluff or ancillary.

True, libertinism can be freeing in many ways, but forgotten by left-libertarians (I prefer libertarians lite; it’s more accurate) is this: libertinism is subsumed within a larger, more-inclusive category of liberty.

Besides, joining the Idiocracy is never liberating. Things that addle the brain permanently are, ultimately, not liberating.

(And what’s up with Nick Gillespie’s less than harsh words about the War on Terror? On Fox News’ Stossel, Gillespie seemed to second the general impetus of the War on Terror. He also went soft on the TSA, protesting only that a well-intentioned effort (TSA) had gone terribly wrong. Wrong! The War on Terror is an unconstitutional crock that guarantees the growth of the state. The TSA is engaged in legalized crime and needs to be dismantled, its goons jailed for each assault perpetrated.)

As I noted, when defending Ron Paul, in 2008, from attacks by the same libertarians,

Beltway libertarians … are moved in mysterious ways by gaping borders, gay marriage, multiculturalism, cloning, and all else “cool and cosmopolitan.”
Judging by Reason’s “35 Heroes of Freedom,” “cool and cosmopolitan” encompasses William Burroughs, a drug addled, Beat-Generation wife killer, whose “work is mostly gibberish and his literary influence baleful.”
Madonna Reason has exalted for, as they put it, leading “MTV’s glorious parade of freaks, gender-benders, and weirdos who helped broaden the palette of acceptable cultural identities and destroy whatever vestiges of repressive mainstream sensibilities still remained.” That sounds like the unscrambled, strange dialect spoken by a professor of Women’s and Gender Studies.

[Or is it “Womin’s Studies”?]

Naturally, I’m down with any lifestyle the individual chooses, just so long as he or she doesn’t visit violence on others (as the TSA does). But to conflate low-culture and manifest ignorance with American liberties is asinine. (And very much the essence of life-style libertarianism.) As the libertarian law goes, all human beings have the freedom to act-out in anyway they like, so long as they abide by the non-aggression axiom.

Personally, I favor discretion. For if “civilization is the progress toward a society of privacy,” in Ayn Rand’s magnificent words, then sexual—or any other—exhibitionism is anathema.

UPDATE I (June 29): Tom DiLorenzo has blogged the this post at LewRockwell.com:

“Fast-Talking Youths Wearing Trendy Eye-Wear . . .
Posted by Thomas DiLorenzo on June 29, 2011 02:42 PM

.. and “waxing orgiastic about MTV and Dennis Rodman” on the FOX networks. That’s how Ilana Mercer describes the Kochtopusian “libertarian lite” crowd of Beltway “libertarians.” They’re the same crowd that orchestrated a vicious smear campaign against Ron Paul, as Ilana discusses.
Ilana’s just-released book, Into the Cannibal’s Pot: Lessons for America from Post-Apartheid South Africa, is a must-read. Among the “blurb”writers who praise the book on the first few pages are yours truly, Tom Woods, Thomas Szasz, and Hans-Hermann Hoppe.

UPDATE II (June 30): ANARCHISM. In reality, working as we are with so few options, there is not much that separates the classical liberal (your host, Mises, etc.) and the anarchist (Rothbard, LRC). The wise, freedom-loving thinker knows this, and works to optimize collaboration. However, as someone who was once an anrachist, and had reconsidered, after careful thought, turning to liberalism in the classical (and American) tradition, my thoughts on anarchism may be of interest.

Here they are in “AGAINST ANARCHISM.”

“Do Immigration Laws Violate Libertarian Axiom” is another relevant read. Ditto my immigration archive, the articles in which advance (unanswered) arguments as to why humanity does not have the right to venture wherever, whenever.

19 thoughts on “UPDATE II: Libertarianism Lite Likely Won’t Cut It

  1. Robert Glisson

    The major thing that I have noticed about we who call ourselves “classical liberals” is that we now are more conservative than conservatives. I find myself arguing for core values much more than I should have to. Especially, since the person on the other side is just as likely to be a Republican as a Democrat. That the ‘Bread and Circus’ libertarian is now the media darling is no surprise.

  2. Jennifer

    An excellent article, summing up and defining matters perfectly. It’s interesting to me to see how different people try to uphold goodness and freedom in life; two Christian men (with some good points on different matters) said to me recently that religion must take precedence in society for it to survive in morality; the indication was that they meant on a level more severe than just chosen, individual practice.

  3. Dennis

    Who is “THE FOOL ON THE HILL” and what, if anything, does he see and say and who listens to him? It was once thought that a Discriminating Person was one who had and used a – generally agreed to by others – higher level of choice for the “finer” things whether those things were food, clothing, manners, education, or behavior.

    So, I ask: “What does a libertarian ‘Fool on the Hill’ see, think about, and do?”

  4. Myron Pauli

    In a slave society, the slave has no decisions to make and hence no responsibility since he is mere property regulated by “da massa” (or the Dictatorship of the Proletariat / Fuhrer). In contrast, a free society depends largely on INDIVIDUAL SELF-REGULATION. Thus one can contemplate a community of Amish without legislatures and welfare state bureaucracies and even much policing but it is hard to contemplate a collection of Charles Mansons that did not evolve into some tyranny.

    My friend’s son was kicked out of Cornell twice for substance abuse but get re-admitted twice and finally graduated a year late. 2 weeks after his graduation, he was on the balcony of his fraternity house drunk and with cocaine in his system and he leaned over the balcony and fell and is now in a coma. Is prohibition, drug laws, and balcony railing regulations the “solution” to such behavior or is self-regulation?

    “If men were angels, no government would be necessary.” – Madison in


    But I would add that the extent that men are NOT ANGELS determines the amount and size of government. Hence, “libertine libertarianism” constitutes an unstable contradiction for a collection of violent addicts can never enjoy enduring freedom.

  5. Jennifer

    As far as the exploitively expressive liberals go, I don’t get them either; while I admittedly love a few of Lady Gag-Gag’s songs, I care for zero of her videos. One thing many in this generation don’t seem to get, is that it’s unnecessary to scream in music or walk around wearing little just to express the freedom that we can.

  6. Westie

    I appreciate you defining the strands of libertarian thought. ‘Life-style Libertarian fits with my observations about these types; they have always been off-putting as I’ve transitioned from Neoconservative back to classical conservative with a strong mix of libertarian, an individual freedom Centered perspective.

    [Well done.]

  7. Cromwell

    Ron Paul is NOT a Classical Liberal, he is the political front of Lew Rockwell and Murray Rothbard, which is Anarchist. Rothbard rejected classical liberalism for Anarchism and this is the main reason and the path to answer the question of why Ron Paul is not a good candidate.

    Lew Rockwell has written much about how he thinks the Constitution is a “Statist” document. [Right Lew is. As I’ve stated, to the extent the Constitution comports with the natural law it is a good thing; to the extend it doesn’t agree with the natural law, it is bad.] Why? Because they are Anarchist Utopians with Utopian dreams of a ‘voluntarist’ society.

    See more here: http://www.redcounty.com/content/lover-constitution-how-well-do-you-know-ron-pauls-muse

  8. Will S.

    The word you’re searching for is “glibertarian.”

    You’re welcome.

  9. NotBob

    Liberty requires responsibility and the willingness of the population to allow bad decisions to be the learning lessons they should be. I see the ethical and moral decline of our country as a symptom of the socialism that is so prevalent here – no consequences for your actions, someone constantly telling you its not your fault. Building self esteem by giving the losers a trophy as well as the winners is the very definition of nanny state socialism in America today!

  10. Mike G

    Ron Paul is a political front? No he is a Texas representative, how anarchistic can you be when you are a rep in the US congress and elected by Texans? I guess quite a bit considering the source of the accusation.

    A front? yes it is an affront to logic to be accused as being an anarchist when that someone who has to put up with the constant drivel from DC and their Boobus Americanus minion.

  11. My Ron Pauli I

    CROMWELL: I got turned on to Ilana Mercer via the Lew Rockwell site (until she got excommunicated for some “crime” of “unorthodoxy”??). I read Basham’s essay which was partially true and partially “warmongeresque” … and my opinion:

    (1) Yes, there is some stuff posted on LRC.com which is wacky and paranoid but a lot of stuff that is spot on. I can shop at the supermarket for eggplant and not broccoli can do similarly with LRC.

    (2) I am not an anarchist. But if I’m in New York heading to New Brunswick, I can get on the commuter train SOUTH even if I don’t want to head all the way to Trenton (anarchy). I certainly do not want to take the Obama Express or the Romney Local to Connecticut (e.g. bigger government)

    (3) Why should I get into a fight with people heading in the right direction and opposing those heading in the wrong directions? It would be like Orthodox Jews and Reform Jews fighting each other in the Polish Ghetto rather than the Nazis!

    (4) Re: Lincoln, Churchill – they’re somewhere in between the “gods” that the Mainstream have elevated them to and the “devils” in Rockwellian theology.

  12. Jennifer

    Brilliant article about Terry Schiavo (linked to in a comment above).

  13. ThinkAnarchy

    I found your blog through Lew Rockwell and enjoyed this post. I will have to bookmark it to see what else you have to say. I hope I find some attacks on Glenn Beck, I can’t stand that pseudo-libertarian.

  14. jt

    CROMWELL @1:35
    That was a ridiculous link.
    You should check your definitions concerning anarchy.
    There is no single defining position that all anarchists hold, and those considered anarchists at best share a certain family resemblance.In broad terms, anarchism is the rejection of coercion and domination in all forms, including that of the priests and the plutocrats.

    It is a stretch to claim that Mr. Paul or Mr. Rockwell are Anarchists , but even if they did share some anarchist-type beliefs, what would be wrong with that?
    Some people do not need the heavy hand of authority to exist.

  15. susan 28

    I came to orthodox liberalism/libertarianism from the left, having supported that “side” because the right seemed more hostile to the “liberties” that impacted me most as a libertine, but was, as the Christians call it, “convicted by conscience” when confronted by a libertarian activist at a Gay Pride fest in Atlanta, who showed me the inconsistencies in my platform of government intervention for “good” reasons like “helping people”, pointing out the obvious fact that they ALL think they’re helping people, including the modern-day “PiMPs” (Post-Millennial Pietists) who’ve made my life miserable – and whom Mr Rothbard posthumously via our friend Lew Rockwell has recently pointed out were the originators of some of the very policies i then supported.

    Prohibitionists as the original welfare-staters? Of COURSE, because ALL pity is rooted in CONTEMPT!! THAT’s THE CONNECTION!!

    Talk about an epihpany. Now, when i see the laws, i see the guns, and the wagging fingers of those meddling old Wilsonian hags and cringe. Cuz much as i hate havin’ ’em pointed at me, i’m loathe to think i’m part of them being pointed at someone else – even to “help people”.

    That’s all it’s about for me now, is not MY freedom – which we libertines are always accused of being “in it” for – shit, i got MY freedom SUSSED, baby, don’t worry about me! – but doing all i can do stop the Regime from doing this shit to others with my money, which to me means unless i’m willing to do jail for not paying taxes then I’M their oppressor and i just cant STAND that thought..

    And if it wasn’t obvious to me, if i could get to my 20’s (i’m 50-ish now) without making the connection.. that’s scary. Any Left Libertine like me who’s shown the connection will be easily disabused, but man, that programming’s sticky isn’t it.. sometimes you just need the scales removed.

  16. Matthew Swaringen

    anarchocapitalism is simply the thorough application of the NAP. Lew Rockwell is definitely an anarchist, and good for him. He proudly displays anarchism on his site: ex: https://www.lewrockwell.com/store/ (plenty of anarchy shirts there).

    Ron Paul is borderline anarchist himself, as he advocates no use of force (you can point out his view on borders, but while he doesn’t agree with amnesty he’s not calling for any positive border enforcement that I’m aware of beyond an enforcement of private property rights).

    Anarchists are not utopian in any form or fashion. We believe that the world would be better without the monopolization of force that exists within the state, but we certainly don’t believe people will suddenly become angels and everyone can trust one another and there will be no suffering/etc.

    Certainly there are anarchists like Stefan Molyneux who look to also improve the general human condition by focusing on child abuse and upbringing, but none has ever said that in a voluntarist society no crime will occur.

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