Is the old conservative-libertarian alliance, what National Review co-founding editor Frank S. Meyer called fusionism, dead? Need we replace it with a new fusion of liberalism and libertarianism?
Writing in the current New Republic, Cato Institute scholar Brink Lindsey answers yes. He makes some specific suggestion on where liberals and libertarians might find common ground in economic policy, like reform of agriculture policy and certain consumption-based tax reforms (he approves of Al Gore’s proposed swap of payroll taxes for carbon taxes). But Lindsey goes further than merely calling for a political marriage of convenience; he calls for “a real intellectual movement, with intellectual coherence. A movement that, at the philosophical level, seeks some kind of reconciliation between Hayek and Rawls.”p>The problem with this idea is that classical liberalism (or libertarianism) and modern liberalism (or progressivism, or egalitarian liberalism) are fundamentally at odds philosophically. The crux of the split is the difference between negative and positive liberty, a difference that illuminates how libertarians and liberals are separated even when they seem to be allied. Take some of the areas that Lindsey cites as common ground between liberals and libertarians: br> /p>
Both reject the religious right’s homophobia and blastocystophilia. Both are open to rethinking the country’s draconian drug policies.br> While it’s true that libertarians and liberals both support gay rights, they mean different things by that. Libertarians believe homosexuals have the right to live the sexual, emotional, and financial life they choose without government interference; this is a negative right that demands government restraint. Liberals believe that homosexuals have the right to have societal approval of their choices; this is a positive right that demands government action that encroaches on the fundamental (negative) right to free association that is enshrined in the First Amendment. Matthew Yglesias, a liberal who takes his ideas seriously, has put it this way : br>
[A] lot of the views liberals tend to think of [as] libertarian-ish liberal positions aren’t actually especially libertarian at the end of the day. For example, liberals, like libertarians, don’t think the coercive authority of the state should be deployed to discriminate against gays and lesbians. Unlike libertarians, however, liberals generally think the coercive authority of the state should be deployed to prevent discrimination against gays and lesbians. We think that landlords shouldn’t be allowed to refuse to rent houses to gay men, that bartenders shouldn’t be allowed to refuse to serve them, that employers shouldn’t be allowed to fire them, etc. Liberals believe in a certain notion of human liberation from entrenched dogma, prejudice, and tradition, but this isn’t the same as hostility to state action, even in the sex-and-gender sphere.br> The same goes for blastocysts. Leave aside the fact that there are plenty of pro-life libertarians out there (almost every Libertarian Party convention features a platform fight over the abortion plank, which in its current incarnation acknowledges “good-faith views on both sides” of the issue). Even leave aside the Luddite leftism that former Reason editor-in-chief Virginia Postrel has fingered as the most dangerous long-term threat to research. Libertarians who oppose outlawing research with embryos are protecting a negative liberty; liberals go further and actively advocate federal funding for such research. (Some libertarians who write on this topic do seem to like science even more than they dislike government, but that is an imprudent departure
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
The debacle of this president’s administration is both a cause and a symptom of the decline of American values. Unless Congress impeaches him, that decline will go on unchecked. An eminent jurist surveys the damage and assesses the chances for the recovery of our culture.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
The American Christmas, like the songs that celebrate it, makes room for everybody under the rainbow. Is that why so many people seem to be hostile to it?
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?