A friend of mine once defined a Libertarian as:
“A Liberal who has read – and understood – Hayek.”
If you are a Libertarian, I’d like to have a chat with you about why this is more accurate than you may believe, but first, I want to explain my personal political ideology. If you understand the definition of the terms as they were originally defined, I would most accurately be described as a “Classic Liberal.” It will help to think Jefferson, Madison, Rush, Mason, Henry, Adams, etc. The primary difference between me and the Federalists of their day is that I have the benefit of hindsight to guide me, so I am much more sympathetic to the arguments and cautions offered by the Anti-Federalists. Still, I understand that the Constitution is not a Libertarian document. The closest that Libertarians will ever be able to come to our Constitution would be The Articles of Confederation, and history records how well that worked and why. And this is why, where, on the surface, it would seem that Libertarians and I should be natural allies in the struggle to preserve individual liberty and rights, we’re actually at odds with each other. This is also why I will never be able to come to your side of the divide between us: because history tells me that doing so will be as doomed a compromise as conceding to the Collectivist/Statist’s agenda. So, we have to learn how to address each other’s concerns in a manner that will allow you to cross that divide and stand with those of us who are trying to hold the line our founders drew in the sand in 1787.
I want to start with a nasty tendency that some – not all – Libertarians have to act like Liberal/Progressives. Unless I am as deferential to you and your ideas, and unless I agree with you 100% and agree never to criticize or question your leaders, you will attack me as viciously and in the same manner as the Left. While I disagree with him on much of this issue of Libertarian vs. Conservative/Classic Liberalism, Beck does explain my objection to this Libertarian tendency pretty well in this story/video clip:
“You Libertarians, you’re Nazis! The fascist Libertarians — you have to agree with absolutely everything!” Beck, who has identified himself as a Libertarian in the past, said.
Beck is, of course, referring to Libertarians who have openly stated that they hate him because he has in the past disagreed with former Texas Congressman Ron Paul.
“You are more fascist than anybody in the Republican Party because you are — if you don’t walk in step exactly with you, you’re not welcome,” he added.
There is a great deal of truth in Beck’s words. If you insist on uniformity, then how can you even claim to be “Libertarian:” you are espousing an idea in a manner that contradicts the ideal. Throw in that the majority of Libertarians hold positions so close to Anarchy as to be nearly indistinguishable from Anarchists, and that Anarchists are natural allies of the Communists, it starts to become understandable as to why modern American Conservatives see no difference between Libertarians and Liberal/Progressives: it’s because you are presenting yourself in the same light the Left does, and for pretty much the same reasons. This attitude is not only prohibits political compromise and alliance with Classic Liberals and Conservatives, it is destructive to society in general. This is not an issue that you can just demand Conservatives/Classic Liberals accept. This is an issue you, the Libertarian, need to be aware of and control. Otherwise, you water down the available pool of individuals who might otherwise stand together – as our founders did.
Now, I have listened carefully to my Libertarian friends. At the time, I was the only Conservative student in my philosophy department in college, so I naturally tended to side with the only Libertarian student. We became friends, but our friendship taught me that I disagreed with him as much as I did the Utilitarians, Socialists, Progressives and Marxists. I have since given a great deal of thought to why I disagree with most Libertarians, and I think I’ve concluded that the average Libertarian – the one who actually understands the ideas and ideals of their ideology – are as willing to use force in demanding their goals as the Collectivists are – they just do it in a passive manner. The problem with this is that many of the Libertarian demands actually harm society, but the Libertarian argues they are “victimless crimes.” At the moment, I am thinking specifically of the Libertarian support for drug use and prostitution. This simply isn’t the case, and as long as the Libertarians fail to see this fact, they will never find the allies we both need in the Conservatives/Classic Liberals.
Now, debating these two topics is a matter for two different posts, but I will end with a few brief thoughts. Under the Natural Law paradigm, society is the creation of a mutual contract between all members in that society. A contract is not a natural right; it is the product of the natural right to willingly enter into mutual agreement with another or other people. This is a crucial distinction as it means the terms of that contract must be in agreement with Natural Law, but they are not necessarily natural rights. In fact, many will be civil rights; or rights created by the concessions agreed to in the social contract. Our founders understood this, which is why they actually supported a community’s civil right to pass morality laws. Remember, Natural Law does not work for an amoral or immoral people; therefore, it follows that morality laws are a part of Natural Law. The trick is being wise enough to keep those laws within the confines of Natural Law and, at best, drug use and prostitution walk the razors edge of that divide. Unless and until the modern Libertarian can come to grips with this flaw in their ideology, the best they will ever be able to create for America is a modern Articles of Confederation, in which case, they will find me opposing them as vigorously as I now oppose the Statists.