Showing posts with label conservatives. Show all posts
Showing posts with label conservatives. Show all posts

Saturday, June 09, 2012

Another Bad Conservative Prediction

Remember when conservatives feared that a president with the middle name Hussein would be reluctant to slaughter Arabs and Muslims?

Monday, August 22, 2011

Chris Matthews Takes Two Hits

Hey, I neglected to post my two latest offerings, both of which show my favorite cable talking head is full of baloney:

"TGIF: Progressive Intolerance" scolds Chris Matthews for pretending that those of us who reject Keynesian economics hate science.

"Conservatives Don't Hate Government" is an op-ed that debunks Matthews's absurd claim about conservatives by showing how committed they are to using government for all kinds of things.

I really should stop watching Hardball.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

The Contradiction of a Conservative, continued

News Corp. (Murdoch, WSJ, Fox) gave $1 million to the Republican Governors Association because the company "has always believed in the power of free markets and in organizations like the RGA, which have a pro-business agenda...."

Not only are those not the same things, they are in conflict with each other. You can have a pro-business agenda or a free market, but not both.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

The Contradiction of a Conservative

The respected conservative columnist James J. Kilpatrick died Sunday. Here's his summary of his political philosophy as reported in the New York Times obituary:

Conservatives believe that a civilized society demands orders and classes, that men are not inherently equal, that change and reform are not identical, that in a free society men are children of God and not wards of the state. Self-reliance is a conservative principle. The work ethic is a conservative ethic. The free marketplace is vital to the conservative’s economic philosophy.

Note the contradictory endorsement of orders, classes, inequality -- and the free market. As Mises and others have long pointed out, the free market respects none of those other values. Freedom means social and cultural evolution, unguided by coercive authority. It means the constant potential for the upsetting of tradition as people discover new ways to live and do things.

Amazingly, conservatives still have not learned that lesson, which is why at best they are poor advocates of economic freedom. For evidence, see the hassle over gay marriage.

Read more on this issue in my review of the movie Chocolat and Steve Horwitz's discussion of the evolution of marriage and family.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

CPAC Highlights

Here are my favorite moments from the big conservative CPAC meeting in D.C.:
  • Dick Cheney. Need more be said?
  • Scott Brown introducing Mitt Romney, respectively, supporter and mover of state-run health insurance in Massachusetts.
  • And Ryan Sorba of California Young Americans for Freedom (sic), for his anti-gay tirade, in which he said:
I'd like to condemn CPAC for bringing GOPride [sic] to this event. Civil rights are grounded in natural rights. Natural rights are grounded in human nature. Human nature is a rational substance in relationship. The intelligible end of the reproductive act is reproduction. Do you understand that?
Actually, no I don't. Let's go to the videotape.

I'm happy to report that Sorba was roundly booed.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Leave the "Left" Behind?

In the comments section of my recent post on Kevin Carson's new book, the value of the "left" prefix in "left libertarian" was questioned. I responded that there are historical reasons that makes the prefix valid. The terms left and right come from the French National Assembly after the 1789 revolution. The right side was populated with defenders of mercantilism and aristocracy, while the left, where Bastiat and Proudhon sat, were liberals and republicans (loosely defined, of course; it was a disparate group, including state socialists). Thus radical liberals were among the original leftists.

There are also good strategic reasons for associating libertarianism with the left and not with the right. The modern movement has, despite futile protests that we are "neither left nor right," been placed on the right as sort of a hip variant of conservatism. Some of this comes from the observers' lack of perceptiveness, but much of it is the movement's own fault. A good deal of libertarian commentary sounds like corporate apologetics. Kevin Carson's term "vulgar libertarianism" -- the attitude that despite government intervention, business today is essentially what it would be in a free market -- is valuable because it identifies a serious and alarming phenomenon.

Being tagged "right-wing" has not helped the libertarian movement. It's hurt. How so? By making libertarians appear indifferent to real misery. We need not deny that general living standards have certainly increased over the decades when we acknowledge that corporatist intervention in the economy has real, not just theoretical, victims. Many people in the United States still live and work in crappy conditions -- and it's not always their fault. Government creates unemployment, abominable "schools," and unlivable inner cities. It erects barriers to self-employment and unorthodox forms of enterprise. It inflates what Charles Johnson calls the fixed costs of subsistence -- the minimum price of decent housing and food is artificially high, and various interventions (zoning and other land-use controls, artificial land scarcity, government economic development, road subsidies) make owning a car nearly indispensable. Let's not forget building codes, patents, trade restrictions, licensing, ubiquitous taxes, and the rest of the weights that government imposes on people.

In sum, the State cuts off the lower rungs of the ladder and pushes people into an oligopsonistic labor market, subjecting many to ugly conditions and arbitrary authority that likely could not endure in a truly free and competitive economy where alternative self-employment and small-scale farming would be unburdened by government.

When libertarians mimic conservatives and address this hardship by saying in effect, "Tough shit," they stifle the growth of the libertarian movement. It's as if they were saying: This is an upper-middle-class college-educated corporate-oriented white movement. No others need apply.

I want no part of that libertarian movement. I prefer the one envisioned by Richard Cobden, John Bright, Frederic Bastiat, Thomas Hodgskin, Herbert Spencer, Lysander Spooner, Benjamin Tucker, Voltairine de Cleyre, Karl Hess, Murray Rothbard (at times), and others who saw true liberalism as a movement for working people and the disfranchised as well.

Lots of people feel pushed around by big institutions, government and otherwise. They should! We need to speak to those people. What's to lose? There's so much to gain.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

William F. Buckley Jr., RIP

William F. Buckley Jr. died yesterday. Looking over his rich biography, I can't help but take away the impression that one of his goals in life was to make the pro-liberty, anti-state movement safe -- unthreatening to the establishment. This partly explains his early efforts to "purge" Ayn Rand and Murray Rothbard from the ranks of "respectable" champions of freedom. He was particularly hard on anti-militarists (Rothbard and John T. Flynn), although anti-militarism and anti-imperialism are integral to the historical movement for individual liberty.

I realize he expressed admiration for the work of Mises and Hayek, but even if Buckley had gotten everything he wanted politically (perhaps with the exception of drug decriminalization), the status -- statist-- quo would have been left fundamentally intact. He was distinctly unradical, despite the fact that individual liberty has always been and remains a radical idea. While he occasionally and inexplicably embraced the word "libertarian," he advocated totalitarian U.S. government during the Cold War, a showdown with the Soviet Union (which his own early mentor, Frank Chodorov, said would extinguish liberty), and compulsory national service, among other anti-libertarian positions. On top of all this, his pretentious elitist manner, which attracted so many young conservatives, was unbearable.

The primary consequence of his long career (which included a stint in the CIA) was to seduce budding radical libertarians into an insipid "hip" conservatism that functioned largely as a defender of big business and the intrusive national-security state. We are eternally grateful.

Friday, July 06, 2007

Taft, Kirk, Empire, and Peace

Excellent post by Gene Healy here on an older "conservatism's" attitude toward empire. A taste from Russell Kirk, 1967:
[Robert] Taft's prejudice in favor of peace was equaled in strength by his prejudice against empire.... he feared that America might make herself an imperial power with the best of intentions – and the worst of results. He foresaw the grim possibility of American garrisons in distant corners of the world, a vast permanent military establishment, an intolerant "democratism" imposed in the name of the American way of life, neglect of America's domestic concerns in the pursuit of transoceanic power, squandering of American resources upon amorphous international designs, the decay of liberty at home in proportion as America presumed to govern the world: that is, the "garrison state," a term he employed more than once.
Hat tip: Ralph Raico