Monday, October 22, 2007

More libertarian misconceptions

If you repeat it enough, it might as well be true.

The surprising fund raising numbers for Rep. Ron Paul are causing people to take notice of the libertarian movement. Unfortunately, the wrong ideas many people have about libertarianism are beat into their heads through repetition. And why not? The entrenched political elite on either side of the aisle are so engrossed in their Zoroastrian struggle that any deviation from The Way is heresy. So whether you're reading Time or even the Wall Street Journal (which is going to be as sympathetic as any big media outlet), you can't be surprised to hear the same old canards.

The following piece appeared in Time magazine. I saw it linked by Mitch Kokai over at the Locker Room.,9171,1673265,00.html

I'll just quote from my email discussing the article with Mr. Kokai:

It does have some interesting political commentary, but again libertarianism comes off as horribly misrepresented in a MSM publication. Now the author does go out of his way to note that he’s speaking in completely unfair generalizations, but that’s no excuse for trotting out the tired, “Libertarians are against government in all its manifestations.” You can also learn from the article that being against or skeptical of pre-emptive, foreign military intervention makes one an isolationist (which I’m sure would come as a shock to the trade policy folks at the Cato Institute), and that government and society are essentially the same thing (which I’m sure would come as a shock to Alexis de Tocqueville).

Of course, reading such in Time was not nearly as disappointing as reading hints in an Opinion Journal piece that Libertarianism is essentially a sort of amoral, free-wheeling nihilism; a notion that a moderately libertarian conservative / very serious Christian such as myself finds particularly noxious.

My thanks [for linking] was not at all sarcastic. It is good to see that libertarianism is getting some publicity, perhaps largely because of the surprisingly serious campaign of Ron Paul. But the article also shows that some misconceptions will take silver bullets and wooden stakes.

The Opinion Journal piece can be found here.

So: libertarians are not the same as libertines. The protection of rights cannot be achieved through anarchy. And the desire to keep troops close to home in most all circumstances (a far from certain tenet of libertarianism to begin with) has not the first thing to do with protectionism/isolationism.

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