Re: Liberaltarianism, Again
Mark: I understand where you’re coming from here, but I’m not entirely convinced. Libertarians are already largely on the same page as liberals on social and foreign policy issues – sometimes they’re even a page ahead, but still in the same book. When it comes to issues like gay rights, abortion, or nation-building, a fairly significant portion of the libertarian intellectual diaspora is quite at home with contemporary liberalism. This is also why libertarians, despite their ongoing and still-tenuous relationship with the right, tend to focus on economics.
I suspect that libertarians would love the right to come around on matters of militarism and the national security state. But liberals really aren’t guiltless in this arena either. Indeed, the last two liberal administrations – Bill Clinton and the current Obama government – have been fairly militaristic themselves. The neoliberal Clinton days were hardly libertarian ones on matters of civil liberties or foreign policy, and the Obama administration has hardly lifted a finger to change the course of the national security state set by its predecessor.
All that aside, if libertarians hope to forge an alliance with the left, they are nonetheless facing a much steeper climb on matters of economics and the basic premise of governance than they are on social and foreign policy issues. On these issues – despite what a number of their elected officials end up doing once in office – a pretty significant portion of Democratic voters are already on board – largely anti-war, pro-choice, pro gay rights, and so forth. Where the significant divide occurs is on questions of economics, central planning, organized labor (especially in the public sector – which reminds me I have another Mark Thompson post to respond to) and so on and so forth.
Libertarians may have bones to pick aplenty with the right, but they are as often as not the same bones to be picked with elected Democrats (as opposed to theoretical Democrats, or Democrats on the campaign trail…). Libertarian economics and the basic assumption of what government is around to do in the first place will continue to be much larger hurdles separating liberals and libertarians in the foreseeable future.
Also, it strikes me that the national security state and government intrusion into the economy are actually two sides of the same coin. Libertarians have cause for concern on both fronts, but I remain unconvinced that the former outweighs the latter in practical terms.
*sorry about that typo – I blame lack of sleep…