Libertarians and conservatives…

24 Feb

Earlier today I got a nasty comment from someone bashing me and my blog without attempting to put forth and real ideas or counter arguments so I deleted it. What struck me afterwards was that the person called themselves a libertarian and in the post they were bashing me for I was decrying big government’s involvement in people’s personal lives. This really puzzled me because the supposed difference between libertarians and conservatives is that libertarians don’t want big government controlling what you do with your body, who you marry, and when you have children while conservatives will gleefully enforce their version of morality on the rest of the population through big government.

Politically I consider myself a liberal with libertarian leanings. As a general rule I do not like big government dictating what its citizens can do. I’m pro gun, pro choice, pro gay marriage, pro drugs, and against the death penalty. However, I do recognize that community is important and that there is a need for government to provide things that support the public good like schools, healthcare, a fire department, libraries, highways, food/water/building/car safety, etc. I recognize that the “free market” is not a perfect system for producing a happy, healthy society. The pure libertarian idea of a free market is too idealistic and makes various assumptions about the players in the market that are unrealistic. America was very libertarian at the turn of the 20th century and the problems we had with robber barons, monopolies, tycoons, tainted food, snake oil salesmen, etc led to the development of protective regulatory agencies.

I also recognize that big government is a tool for ensuring legal equality. Oppressed and disenfranchised minorities in a small community can appeal to bigger government for protection. A small town of racist white supremacists in the south cannot oppress and deny blacks the right to vote because such rights are on a bigger scale than the small southern town. Big government at a federal level incorporates so many diverse people from different parts of the country that it dilutes out discrimination that would be practiced on a smaller homogeneous scale.

So I guess you can call me libertarian lite.

What really puzzles me about the other libertarians I see is just how easily they associate with conservatives. Many of the libertarians I know you would not know they were libertarians and not conservative unless you asked them. They post very conservative posts up on facebook or their blogs, they like very conservative speakers and authors, and they watch Fox “news.”

Why do I never see them railing against anti-gay marriage laws, or abortion laws, the jailing of journalists, or bills like the Patriot Act that strip us of our personal liberties guaranteed in the Constitution? The only explaination I can think of is pretty sickening:

Money is more important than social equality.

If they were concerned with the social equality of all people they’d stay well away from conservatives. I’d see them hanging out with liberals but grumbling when economics came up. Instead they’re hanging out with conservatives and staying silent when social issues come up.

7 Responses to “Libertarians and conservatives…”

  1. Greg Christopher February 24, 2011 at 10:13 am #

    Here’s my theory; they are not really libertarian.

    I see lots of people who claim to be libertarian but are not, and I live in the South like you do. I think it is a problem down here more than it might be elsewhere. I don’t think it is about money/class so much as it is about religion. Atheist libertarians do not hang out with conservatives. Christian libertarians do.

  2. Alex Zorach February 24, 2011 at 1:11 pm #

    A lot of people get stuck in unhealthy ways of thinking. When someone is just bashing you, they’re probably not thinking rationally, so it’s not worth thinking too hard about their ideas.

    I’ve found that people like this often miss the main points of blog posts of mine.

    Don’t think too hard about it. People who are not thinking clearly tend to draw a lot of false conclusions, often jumping to conclusions about what you believe or what you’re trying to say on the basis of one or two isolated things they read. They’re not seeing your whole argument and aren’t even really talking about it, they’re just talking about the idea they have in their head about what your argument is, which, obviously, isn’t correct.

  3. humanitarikim February 24, 2011 at 4:42 pm #

    I kind of agree with Greg. It usually boils down to religion or religious leanings.

  4. Justin February 24, 2011 at 6:13 pm #

    As a libertarian, it is frustrating when libertarians more commonly associate with the right rather than the left. I sort of agree with Greg (above) in that right-libertarians are more culturally conservative.

    There is a growing contingent of left-libertarians, I am glad to say, like the the Center for a Stateless Society.

    As an aside, I would dispute the claim that robber barons and corporate monopolies were the result of a free market rather than government privilege.

    In any case, I agree with your overall point.

  5. greengeekgirl February 25, 2011 at 3:44 pm #

    I agree with Greg: I don’t think many are really libertarian, but I think they’re so ashamed/put off by conservatives that they don’t want to call themselves conservative. Or, that they just don’t really know what “libertarian” really means through and through.

  6. thesecretatheist February 27, 2011 at 1:24 pm #

    Yeah, I have a friend who likes to boldly point out the fact that he considers himself a libertarian rather than a conservative, while spouting conservative propaganda.

  7. subtle_overlord March 7, 2011 at 12:17 pm #

    I am an ex-liberal from California and I now consider myself a libertarian, so I’ll try to explain why the conservative right is more appealing to me than the liberal left, even though I intellectually consider both of them equally wrong, politically and philosophically. I will also point out that religion plays no role because I consider myself an agnostic.

    Having grown up with a lot of liberals, it’s hard not to become a bleeding-heart liberal yourself. You don’t want to be the kind of person who associates herself with things like “not caring about the poor” or “loving corporations”, and any of those buzz phrases that liberals love distancing themselves from. I certainly didn’t want to be seen as racist or sexist.

    When I went to college away from the Bay Area, I started to think outside the box and I realized that life was more than simply seeming to care about poor people or minorities, which is what a lot of liberals in California only seem to care about. They didn’t seem to have a firm grasp of simple economics (like if you’re in debt, stop spending money), and as a result the Golden State is suffering economically. If you even THINK about cutting funding from education, you are branded as a person who doesn’t care about poor people or education, which is NOT the case at all. The pattern tends to be the same: if I am anything less than a corporations-hating, poor people loving hipster, then people look at my differently and I get judged. I hate that.

    The more I thought about it the more I realized how hypocritical liberals are. They claim they care about the poor and whatnot, but in reality it is conservatives I see more often than not who donate more money, time, and blood to society through voluntary actions, as opposed through government coercion and taxes (that’s actually true). In the end I was disgusted. The liberal movement boiled down to a bunch of guilt-inducing buzz words with no intellectual backing.

    I guess you can say in liberal California I am a closeted conservative compared to most people. And it SUCKS to be closeted when I go back to the Bay Area because people do do judge you differently. For a place that supposedly values diversity, it just seems hypocritical to me.

    (For the record, if I had grown up in a neocon area this might be a different story. I’ve never personally met a hardcore neocon in California).

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