Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Laurence Vance: Can Conservatives Be Libertarians?

     Laurence Vance is a Christian libertarian whom I have referred to several times on this blog.  He has written a recent article which can be found here:

     My own first reaction is, I doubt it.  The "social conservatives" and "fiscal conservatives" and "religious conservatives" that I know best are so heavily invested in the absolute proven rightness of their political cause(s), that nothing short of a conversion experience in their political philosophy -- and that is what we are talking about, political philosophy -- I say, nothing short of a conversion experience will move them: not losing court battles, not losing budget fights, not dwindling church attendance -- nothing that I can see.

     Oh, I'd like to be wrong, of course.  And I praise Mr. Vance for this essay; that is why I am providing a link on this blog.  I like the way he thinks, I like his reasoning, I like his courage, I like his hopefulness.  I like that he thinks that it should and could happen.

     I just think it isn't going to happen, except on the very smallest scale.  And, odd as it might seem, I'm pretty sure that is for the best.  

     I myself would like to see a few good converts to libertarian thinking.  The operative word for me is, a few.  I don't trust mass anything.  In fact, politically, I don't trust anything much.  Not anymore.

    Please, we don't need any crusades right now, we don't need any Atlas-Shrugged-thumpers, we don't need any demagogues on talk shows, or anywhere else.  And just about the last thing we need is a bunch of "born-again" neo-neo-libertarians stampeding in from anywhere, telling us all that they just got the old time religion, and the very next thing they're coming up with some great idea, some program, that we've all gotta do.  As soon as they pull that, you know they're the same old neo-cons; they haven't changed a bit.  And the very last thing, please, no Big Money.   (Not that Mr. Vance is suggesting, or hoping for, anything of the sort.  He isn't.)

     But enough of my pessimism.

     Back to Mr. Vance's essay.  He gives what I would call an excellent treatment of three issues that concern many conservatives -- same sex marriage, legalized abortion, and illegal-drug use -- where conservatives think they have fundamental disagreement with "libertarians."  He shows the sharp distinction between having a truly libertarian philosophy, and supporting the so-called "Libertarian Party."  (This is not hard for me:  if I believe in true democracy, this does not mean that I believe in the Democratic Party.  If I believe in a constitutional republic, this does not mean that I believe in the Republican Party.)

      He treats the communication problems that arise from ambiguous notions and slogans.  He shows how the strong libertarian commitment to personal liberty relates to the health of personal beliefs and morals, and how it constrains our thinking about expanding government power.

     On all points, I find his reasoning is clear enough, his explanations are effective enough, and his prose is good enough that he is . . . persuasive.  Maybe.

     I honestly hope that Mr. Vance is able to persuade some political conservatives where their true best interests lie.  Maybe conservatives can be libertarians.

     But if they can -- I pray that they don't start some kind of movement.  Please.


Wednesday, July 10, 2013

United We Fall?

Guest post by Charles Upole

As long as groups of people have existed there have been those who belong to the group and those who don’t. When someone ridicules a family member, the family will normally bond together to comfort and protect its own.  Schools and small towns form rivalries with other schools and small towns.  College students are trained to despise their rivals and nations when scrutinized by another nation will typically unify behind its leadership.  Its human nature, right?  We all, for the most part, want to belong; we want to be part of a group in which we can identify.  When faced with external threat strange alliances take place, brothers who are in a fight with each other are suddenly the best of friends when the town bully picks on one of them.  Teenagers see one of their classmates in the mall getting picked on by kids from a rival school will come to their rescue; we tend to have a tendency to put any differences aside when faced with a threat.  People from all sorts of backgrounds when faced with the prospect of war will put their differences aside to form a united front against a common enemy.  Keep this in mind.

Ever notice, especially in this country, how we see so much division and groups of people pitted against each other?  We see rich vs. poor, old vs. young, men vs. women, black vs. white, republican vs. democrat, etc., etc., etc.  Each one of these groups takes on the characteristic above of protecting their own at all cost.  This is actually a tactic called the Hegelian Dialectic, where there is a thesis, and anti-thesis and a synthesis.  The goal of synthesis or resolution can only be achieved through the negative friction between the two factions.  We see groups of people pitted against each other all over the world seemingly simultaneously going through the fever pitched negative phase of the Hegelian Dialectic.  One must wonder if this is in fact some sort of social engineering.

While we have these smaller divisive groups that form against one another we also have an overarching call for worldwide unification against common threats such as global warming, terrorism, hunger, AIDS, cancer or some other worldwide epidemic.  The problem is that every single call for worldwide unification is in response to fear.  People who are in the smaller groups fighting one another, unify under one of these “super groups”.

Is the big picture beginning to take shape?  Our cultures, philosophies and values are being synthesized out through the negative friction of the Hegelian Dialectic tactic while corporately we are being unified in fear against a greater “threat”.  I’m not going to debate whether or not these perceived threats have any merit or not, but what freedoms have we already given up because of them?  What liberty have we surrendered because of terrorism or global warming?  How many unnecessary vaccinations are floating around in our bodies in fear of the next epidemic? How many GMOs are in our food supply because of perceived “world hunger” that could be solved with one week of our “defense” budget?  Isn’t it time we start asking questions rather than blindly following our basic human instinct to belong?

The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God. They are corrupt, they have done abominable works, there is none that doeth good.  The LORD looked down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there were any that did understand, and seek God. They are all gone aside, they are all together become filthy: there is none that doeth good, no, not one.  Have all the workers of iniquity no knowledge? who eat up my people as they eat bread, and call not upon the LORD.  There were they in great fear: for God is in the generation of the righteous.  Ye have shamed the counsel of the poor, because the LORD is his refuge.  Oh that the salvation of Israel were come out of Zion! when the LORD bringeth back the captivity of his people, Jacob shall rejoice, and Israel shall be glad.  ~Psalm 14

*       *       *

Comments on this and all posts are most welcome.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Wealth Inequality In America

     For a long time, I have heard (and believed) that many of us politically active American people -- by which I simply mean, people who try to follow the news and vote intelligently -- being led by a misguided but sincere party loyalty, often vote against our own, and our families', actual economic interests.

     Well, I still believe that.

     And here comes a 6-minute video that graphically shows comparisons between (1) pure socialism, (2) what most people think is fair, (3) what they think is really going on, and (4) what is really going on.

     Here it is:  Wealth Inequality In America.

     Remember this:  more than 95% of us are just Democrats, Republicans, independents, libertarians, conservatives, liberals, professional people, blue collar workers, ghetto dwellers, suburbanites, homeless, food-stamp users, taxpayers, upper management, cubicle-dwellers, factory workers, coal-miners, waiters, Christians, Jews, Muslims, atheists, and the like.

*       *       *

     Here is some unvarnished commentary by George Carlin.

Your comments, as always, are most welcome.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Two Strangest Secrets

     Yes, it is fun to break grammatical rules in titles of posts.  It is simply a tease to get you to follow up on two links, one old and one new.

     1.  A motivational author, Earl Nightingale, wrote "The Strangest Secret" many decades ago.  You can read about him here.  You can also listen to his original recording, and read 30 quotes from it, here.  I read (and enjoyed) this a long time ago.

     2.  More recently, Paul Rosenberg wrote his own take on "The Strangest Secret" at a blog called Freeman's Perspective.  I think you will find it interesting; anyway, I did, because I had a similar adventure at the age of 17.