re: Liberaltarianism as a Disposition

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3 Responses

  1. Avatar Jaybird says:

    (I can’t believe I never got around to commenting on this.)

    You write:

    Maybe Jason is thinking primarily of liberal rhetoric on culture-war issues. If so, that’s a fine point since those issues skew in all kinds of odd ways. On abortion, the left tends to stress a libertarian case about choice while the right makes a liberal case about unborn life. The rhetoric on marriage is more unsettled, but I think the most convincing arguments of the left are, once again, libertarian. Probably most gay-marriage supporters (I’ll admit to having no proof of this mere guess) are more convinced by arguments of the live-and-let-live variety than they are by calls for compassion towards their gay fellow-citizens.

    I wrote as a comment way back in the heady days of 2009:

    In any case, what about the areas where the democrats (or, liberals actually) overlap with the libertarians? Gay marriage, stopping the drug war, ending DADT, so on? Well, they do so for different reasons, mostly.

    Liberals support gay marriage because (and this is a sweeping generalization) marriage is a good thing that gays should have access to and they ought to have civil protections and so on and so forth.

    Libertarians (and this is a sweeping generalization) support gay marriage because they don’t think that The State should have the right to deny marriage to two people… and this leads to a discussion of the onerous tax laws that intrude on every aspect of life and how marriage provides a small umbrella from that intrusion and people seem to think that the intrusion is normal when they should be fighting against that level of intrusion in everybody’s lives and not just giving a tiny bit of relief to people who sign a piece of paper, which leads to a different discussion, which leads to another one.

    And, at the end of the day, while libertarians and liberals both support gay marriage, they do so for very, very different reasons.

    Which is to say… yeah, I pretty much agree with you.

    Now, when you say this:

    What we have to do, then, is give an account of why any particular change might be good or bad. Whatever our predispositions, we need to do the hard work of understanding the benefits and costs.

    We have to very much identify deal-breakers when it comes to benefits/costs. Are there any prices that are too high? Surely there are. “Whatever our predisposition”, I am not willing to accept, for example, Gulags. Even if you told me that the only thing standing between us and Single Payer was our refusal to enact Gulags, I still wouldn’t be able to make that trade.

    My problem with both the liberals and the conservatives is that both of them are more than happy enough to trade away liberties that they don’t care about for securities that are never quite as secure in practice as they were promised at the time that the deal was made.Report