The Spectacle Blog

He Says ‘Materialistic Libertarianism’ Like It’s a Bad Thing

By on 8.18.10 | 3:40PM

In excoriating Ann Coulter for speaking at a conference next month of gay Republicans, Joseph Farah of WorldNetDaily says:

"The drift of the conservative movement to a brand of materialistic libertarianism is one of the main reasons we planned this conference from the beginning."

"This conference" is WorldNetDaily's Take Back America conference, from which Farah has disinvited Coulter. Use of "libertarian" as an epithet, and accusations that advocates of a free society are "materialistic," have long troubled me. A few years ago, I picked a fight with Rod Dreher over his idiotic statement:"The tragic flaw of Western economics is that it is based on exploiting and encouraging greed and envy."

Dreher is an idiot -- and not a particularly useful idiot, at that -- whereas I believe Farah is merely mistaken. Let it be noted that I have strongly criticized the gay rights movement, going so far as to cite Judge Roy Moore's decision in Ex Parte H.H as demonstrating that the concept of gay rights is "utterly alien to our nation's legal tradition."

On this issue, as on many others, you simply can't get more conservative than Roy Moore (who has been a columnist for WorldNetDaily), and to cite him favorably is to automatically incur the accusation of homophobic theocratic extremism. This is a risk I gladly incur, however, just as I have incurred the risks of defending Ann Coulter, and for basically the same reason: As Lincoln said when critics demanded he relieve Grant from command, "I can't spare this man -- he fights."

Joseph Farah is also a fighter, and I regret that his disagreement with Ann Coulter over the so-called "Homocon" conference has led to this apparent falling out between them. What Farah describes as a "drift" by conservatives toward "materialistic libertarianism" is, I believe, a misperception, yet another consequence of Republican "brand damage" in the post-Bush era.

As usual when Republicans lose an election, the media cites GOP moderates ("The Republicans Who Really Matter") scapegoating conservatives, which causes the more spineless Republicans to try to distance themselves from the allegedly tainted right-wing elements of their constituency. Factional infighting ensues, and the conservative intellectual elite then offers some "solution" that, more often than not, leads to even worse problems. This was exemplified in the wake of the Dole '96 debacle, when David Brooks promoted "National Greatness" as the panacea for whatever ailed the GOP.

Strangely enough, Brooks' 1997 prescription for "Big Government conservatism" (an oxymoron) is echoed in Farah's criticism of "marterialistic libertarianism." Like Farah, Brooks laid the blame for GOP failure squarely at the feet of free marketeers and advocates of limited government. While I am far more sympathetic to Farah's Christian conservatism than to the effete centrism of Brooks -- or Dreher's gormless pseudo-spiritual "crunchiness" -- I believe that Farah is equally wrong to condemn libertarians. Opposition to big government is a profoundly Christian value, as I argued in condemning the Bush bailout in October 2008:

[B]y displaying the spectacle of government engaging daily in legalized theft, the welfare state tends to corrupt the morals of its citizens.

The gay-rights movement is not libertarian, it is egalitarian, and thus constitutes an expression of the welfare-state mentality. Insofar as the "Homocon" conference supports gays who do not endorse the welfare state, it leads them away from darkness and into light, out of error and into truth.

Who knows how far such a journey may lead? And who knows whether, by inviting Ann Coulter to speak, the "Homocon" sponsors will thereby be entertaining an angel unawares?

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