Friday, May 20, 2016

Why I cannot be libertarian

I have said to many folks, particularly my libertarian friends, that I want to be a libertarian so bad I can taste it. And I mean that. So what keeps me from signing on?

A handful of issues, for starters: as a group, they support abortion; they don't care for an aggressive foreign policy; and I simply can't quite come around on drug questions. Further, and this will sound very odd coming from me, they have too much of a distrust of government. Like it or not, there are things which only a government can do. Keeping order, for one, and keeping real and potential enemies at bay with the aggressive measures necessary. Then there's that pesky fact that freedom, which they champion to excess quite frankly, is a means rather than an end. Freedom is how we do things, not why, and while as a conservative I believe that the society which is best is one with the greatest rational amount of freedom, freedom as freedom cannot justify one solitary thing. This leads to I think the root problem with libertarianism as it stands today. It is the belief that the individual is the final arbiter of morality, the one who sets the standard for right and wrong.

No individual can hold this kind of power. On a practical level, it invites anarchy, or worse: a might makes right society. On a philosophic level, it begs one very important question: if I, as an individual, can make up my own mind about people and things, why should I ever listen to you? No progress can be made from such a starting point in ethics, which certainly means nothing can be done in any other area either.

If libertarians were to admit that it is not the individual (or that weak sister, consensus) which dictates what can and cannot be done, that justice and rightness exist outside of those realms having a genuine being of their own, I may reconsider my position. Until then, they are as bad as liberals: they want what they want because they want it. It is a poor substitute for critical thought on critical issues.

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