When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro. - Hunter S. Thompson

24 April 2007

Brian Doherty on libertarians and American politics

[The] sense of a lost cause haunts libertarians in the public arena. They are often thought to be pushing an outmoded 19th century philosophy of laissez-faire that had been proven wrong in the Progressive Era and the Great Depression. It’s hard to argue against history—particularly in a deeply state-embedded world that most people feel quite comfortable in, or if they don’t, want the simple and visible expedient of some sort of concerted state action to solve whatever problem is bothering them.

Positing the benefits of a more libertarian world, as I’ve learned on talk radio across the land, runs you smack into failures of imagination as vast as the federal deficit: anything the government has ever had a hand in, from making cities well-designed and livable to regulating commerce or the money supply to running schools, is thought to be impossible without it.

And when it comes to things like getting out of Iraq—one of [Texas Congressman and libertarian-Republican Presidential candidate Ron] Paul’s main selling points, and a great one—you run into another of libertarianism’s rhetorical difficulties: it is often difficult for a libertarian solution, coming at the end of decades or even centuries of state solutions, to seem to “solve the problem.” After all, merely pulling out of Iraq is going to leave a pretty ugly situation in Iraq, and how is your libertarian non-interventionism going to solve that one, pal? One thing government programs are unfailingly good at: creating seemingly legitimate excuses for more government programs.

The Loneliness Of The Long-Distance Libertarian: How far can traditional libertarianism go in modern-day America? (Reason, April 24 2007)

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