Monday, October 22, 2007

Are Libertarians Part of the "Right Wing"?

So often, I hear some Conservatives tell me that "libertarians are part of the political right". Personally, I find that hard to believe because, when I look at the positions advocated by self-described conservatives, I cannot for the life of me see the principles which would unite us. Conservativism is truly alien to me. (Modern liberalism is just as alien to me, as well, to be clear.)

So it was interesting to read this article today by Steve Greenhut, who attended the recent Conservative Leadership Conference. He noted the distinct difference in the rhetoric of certain speakers. It became pretty clear that conservatives and libertarians are interested in completely different things. Says Greenhut:

Conservatives and libertarians are marching to different drummers, going on different paths going in opposite directions. The libertarians still are committed to "less government interference" and "less centralized authority," but conservatives these days are more interested in building an all-powerful central government to wage war on real and perceived enemies at home and abroad. Conservatives use the word "freedom" while they wax poetic about American military might. But the policies they promote show no sign of trusting individual Americans to live their lives as they please and every sign of trusting the government to do what is best. During the Cold War, an inspiring leader such as Reagan was able to keep internal peace, as both factions battled their mutual enemies: the Soviet empire and tax-and-spend Democrats. The former is gone, and the latter is still with us, but many libertarians have come to realize that they are as far apart from their conservative "allies" on the big issues of the day as they are from their liberal adversaries.
It has long been my position that Conservatives are anti-libertarian. Freedom is simply a rhetorical tool to advance and increase the power of the State. At their core, they care nothing for individual freedom, but wish to bask in some vague sense of collective power. Judging by Greenhut's report, that assertion is generally true.

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