What kind of libertarian are you?

Christianity is  not the only belief system that divides itself up according to fine nuances of theology.  Virtually all religions do that.  And so do secular ideologies.  For example, the Wikipedia article on “Libertarianism” cites six varieties.  So if you are a libertarian, are you a libertarian conservative, a left-libertarian, a minarchist, an anarcho-capitalist, a geolibertarian, or (my favorite) a libertarian transhumanist?

Go here to see what each of those means: Libertarianism – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

Three varieties of conservatism

Here are three different political ideologies that go by the name of “conservatism.”  The definitions and descriptions are taken from the first paragraph of their Wikipedia entries.  (You might want to read the rest of the entries.)  Which is better?  And how can advocates of these three possibly work together?

Paleoconservatism (sometimes shortened to paleo or paleocon when the context is clear) is a term for an anti-communist and anti-imperialist political philosophy in the United States stressing tradition, civil society and anti-federalism, along with religious, regional, national and Western identity.  Chilton Williamson, Jr. describes paleoconservatism as “the expression of rootedness: a sense of place and of history, a sense of self derived from forebears, kin, and culture—an identity that is both collective and personal.”  Paleoconservatism is not expressed as an ideology and its adherents do not necessarily subscribe to any one party line.

via Paleoconservatism – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

Neoconservatism is a political philosophy that emerged in the United States of America, and which supports using modern American economic and military power to bring liberalism, democracy, and human rights to other countries.[1][2][3] Consequently the term is chiefly applicable to certain Americans and their strong supporters. In economics, unlike paleoconservatives and libertarians, neoconservatives are generally comfortable with a welfare state; and, while rhetorically supportive of free markets, they are willing to interfere for overriding social purposes.

via Neoconservatism

Libertarianism is advocacy for individual liberty[1] with libertarians generally sharing a distinct regard for individual freedom of thought and action, as well as a strong suspicion of coercive authority, such as that of government. However, there are also broad areas of disagreement among libertarians. Broad distinctions such as left-libertarianism and right-libertarianism have been identified. Additionally, some distinguish between minarchist and varying anarchist views (such as the libertarian socialist and anarcho-capitalist views) of libertarianism.

via Libertarian

HT:  A comment from Cincinnatus gave me the idea for this

The Wet Blanket Movement

Joe Carter at First Things is leery of the Tea Party Movement, saying that true conservatives don’t like enthusiasm or protest demonstrations. He proposes an alternative program to limit government:  The Wet Blanket Movement.  Unfortunately, he says, the proper leader of this movement is dead.  That would be Calvin Coolidge.  He quotes Walter Lippman on the great man:

Mr. Coolidge’s genius for inactivity is developed to a very high point. It is far from being an indolent inactivity. It is a grim, determined, alert inactivity which keeps Mr. Coolidge occupied constantly. Nobody has ever worked harder at inactivity, with such force of character, with such unremitting attention to detail, with such conscientious devotion to the task. Inactivity is a political philosophy and a party program with Mr. Coolidge, and nobody should mistake his unflinching adherence to it for the soft and easy desire to let things slide. Mr. Coolidge’s inactivity is not merely the absence of activity. It is on the contrary a steady application to the task of neutralizing and thwarting political activity wherever there are signs of life.

The White House is extremely sensitive to the first symptoms of any desire on the part of Congress or of the executive departments to do something, and the skill with which Mr. Coolidge can apply a wet blanket to an enthusiast is technically marvelous. There have been Presidents in our time who knew how to whip up popular enthusiasm. There has never been Mr. Coolidge’s equal in the art of deflating interest. The mastery of what might be called the technique of anti-propaganda is worthy of prolonged study by students of public opinion. The naive statesmen of the pre-Coolidge era imagined that it was desirable to interest the people in their government, that public discussion was a good thing, that indignation at evil was useful. Mr. Coolidge is more sophisticated. He has discovered the value of diverting attention from government, and with exquisite subtly that amounts to genius, he has used dullness and boredom as political devices.

via Calvin Coolidge and the Wet Blanket Movement » First Thoughts | A First Things Blog.

A low point for all sides

Have you followed the Shirley Sherrod fiasco?  Conservative news aggregator Andrew Briethbart posted a video of this African-American Department of Agriculture official saying how she once wanted to refuse to help a particular  farmer save his farm because he was white.  An uproar ensued.  Sherrod’s boss, the Secretary of Agriculture–Sherrod claims under White House pressure–fired her.

But then it turns out that Breitbart had posted only the first part of a confession-and-redemption testimony.  The tape of the speech went on to record Sherrod saying how she  then recognized her prejudice, realized that “there is no difference between us,” and helped the man save his family farm.  (Even though at the time, 24 years ago, she was working not for the government but for an agency focused solely on helping black farmers.  That means her labors on behalf of the white farmer went beyond her job description, something that also was not made clear on the Breitbart clip.)

Now the Secretary of Agriculture and the President are apologizing for firing her and offering her another job, which so far she is declining.  Even the conservative pundits who attacked her “racism” are taking it back.

But just look how low we have sunk in our public discourse and political tag-team wrestling matches.  Yes, we conservatives are guilty.  And look at how low our executive leadership has sunk, firing a person upon impulse without even waiting to get the whole story. And then trying to take it back.  What incompetence.  What contemptible tactics.  Can we have an upturn after this?

There is no need for conservatives to play these sorts of games, given the abundance of actual issues.  And surely liberals can summon up enough leadership to refrain from panicking and turning on each other and to hold the government together for just a little while longer.

See Obama expresses ‘regret’ to fired USDA official Shirley Sherrod.

America’s Ruling Class

According to Angelo M. Codevilla, professor emeritus of international relations at Boston University, power in America is held by a distinct ruling class,  comprised of both Democrats and Republicans, a political and social elite that uses the government to advance its interests against the two-thirds of ordinary Americans whom it rules with contempt.  This is not an economic class–just being wealthy won’t get you in–but rather it is a social aristocracy based not on birth but on a particular set of beliefs, social values, and class markers.  The article is long, it defies excerpt or paraphrase, and it is inflammatory.  You’ve got to read it:  The American Spectator : America’s Ruling Class — And the Perils of Revolution.  Then talk about it here.

States’ rights and gay marriage

A judge has ruled that when states legalize gay marriage, that takes priority over the federal Defense of Marriage Act, with its definition of marriage as being between a man and a woman.  Conservatives tend to push states’ rights, while liberals tend to believe federal law should trump state law.   Reactions to this ruling, though, go against those tendencies.  Interestingly, “tea partiers” are being consistent, praising the ruling as a victory for states’ rights.  Here are some details:

A judge’s decision on Thursday declaring that a state law allowing same-sex marriage in Massachusetts should take precedence over a federal definition of marriage has exposed the fractures and fault lines among groups working to bolster states’ rights.

The decision, by Judge Joseph L. Tauro of United States District Court in Boston, supports and echoes a central tenet of the Tea Party, 9/12 and Tenth Amendment movements, all of which argue that the authority of the states should trump Washington in most matters not explicitly assigned by the Constitution to the federal government.

Congress, the judge said, had infringed on a question that was the province of local voters and legislators.

But in using the argument to support gay marriage in Massachusetts, where the case arose, the judge created an awkward new debating point within the less-government movement about where social goals and government policy intersect, or perhaps collide.

Some people involved in the campaigns to limit Washington’s reach cheered what they said was a states’ rights victory.

“The Constitution isn’t about political ideology,” said Michael Boldin, the founder of the Tenth Amendment Center, a group based in Los Angeles. “It’s about liberty, and limiting the government to certain divisive issues — I applaud what I consider a very rare ruling from the judiciary.” . . .

A spokeswoman for one of the biggest Tea Party umbrella organizations, Tea Party Patriots, said that social questions were not part of their mission.

“As far as an assertion of states’ rights goes, I believe it’s a good thing,” said Shelby Blakely, executive director of The New Patriot Journal, the group’s online publication. “The Constitution does not allow federal regulation of gay marriage just as it doesn’t allow for federal regulation of health care.”

via News Analysis – Basis of Ruling on Gay Unions Stirs Debate – NYTimes.com.

So, is the outcome the only thing that matters to you, or is it important to follow the principle, even though the outcome might not be what you want?


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