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Chris Dierkes

Chris Dierkes (aka CJ Smith). 29 years old, happily married, adroit purveyor and voracious student of all kinds of information, theories, methods of inquiry, and forms of practice. Studying to be a priest in the Anglican Church in Canada. Main interests: military theory, diplomacy, foreign affairs, medieval history, religion & politics (esp. Islam and Christianity), and political grand bargains of all shapes and sizes.

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4 Responses

  1. Avatar Mark Thompson
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    says:

    I think you’re exactly right that the difference between libertarianism and liberalism lies in “taste for governance.” But the fact that this is where the difference lies helps to explain why the bridge between the two really isn’t that wide. To the extent these 7 tenets are an accurate description of modern liberalism, the “taste for governance” is the sole tenet that expresses a preference related to means rather than ends.

    In essence, for the libertarian, the lack of a “taste for governance” emerges from a general skepticism about the ability of government to achieve that which it sets out to do without imposing unintended consequences that undermine the achievement of tenets 1 through 6. This is where the writings of FA Hayek come into play so strongly.

    But, as I said, these are differences over means rather than ends. As a result, a libertarian should be open to arguments for various government programs, provided that the liberal can convince him that the program will, in fact, achieve at least one of goals 1-6 without excessively undermining others of those goals.

    Similarly, a philosophical liberal ought to be open to libertarian arguments that a proposed policy will either fail to achieve its goals or will excessively undermine at least one of goals 1-6 in the process of achieving its stated goal.

    Assuming that both the liberal and the libertarian act as they should, then the end result is a discussion in which the two can arrive at a compromise that is as narrowly tailored towards the achievement of the stated end as possible.

    Unfortunately, the current political alignment has caused many liberals to treat point 7 as an end unto itself rather than a means, just as the current alignment has caused many libertarians to treat its antithesis as an end unto itself rather than a means. As such, there has been all too little room for compromise on something that otherwise ought to be utterly subject to compromise.

    As for the relationship of all this to conservatism, I suppose it really depends on the brand of conservatism about which you are speaking. But I’m not sure that most conservatives would really adhere to many of the 7 liberal tenets; this isn’t to say that they reject these tenets outright, but rather that they likely don’t hold these tenets as core goals of government. Speaking in an overly general manner, I’d say that a conservatism untethered from libertarianism would most likely be primarily concerned with things like social stability and the preservation of cultural tradition….in essence, it would closely resemble paleoconservatism.Report

  2. Avatar Chris Dierkes
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    says:

    Unfortunately, the current political alignment has caused many liberals to treat point 7 as an end unto itself rather than a means, just as the current alignment has caused many libertarians to treat its antithesis as an end unto itself rather than a means.

    I think this is dead on the money. Any ideas about what could change the political context? That’s a mighty tall order it seems to me.Report

  3. Avatar Mark Thompson
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    says:

    I’m beginning work on a follow-up to this, but the short, short answer to your question is, I think, that changes in political alignment can do pretty interesting things. It’s worth remembering that our political coalitions are more historical accidents than they are entrenched advocates for competing governing philosophies.Report

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