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.


1 comment:

  1. Here is a follow up, which illustrates the reason for my concern in the article above -- RH