Monday, April 18, 2005

Can a Conservative be a Libertarian?

An interesting discussion on the Conservative Philosopher where he claims that conservatives can't be libertarians.
Now this raises all sorts of questions, but it will suffice to make the point. I would argue that any attempt to give a moral foundation to libertarianism (e.g. utilitarian, Lockean) will inevitably end up either favoring moral conservatism to such an extent that it fails to count as genuinely "libertarian" at all (since it will end up denying that we can, strictly speaking, have a "right" to do many of the things libertarians want to claim we have a right to), or it will succeed in being genuinely libertarian, but in a way that rules out the possibility of moral conservatism. In short, there is no coherent way to be both morally conservative and strictly libertarian.

It seems to me that he reached this conclusion largely by tweaking the definition of libertarian. Read some of the comments on the site.

In that article he links to something he wrote three years ago that echoes my own thoughts on abortion, and crystalizes many on morality. It's not short, but it's worth reading:

Self-Ownership, Abortion, and the Rights of Children: Toward a More Conservative Libertarianism. (PDF)


Blogger Adam J. Bernay, The Radical Rabbi of the Right said...

I have two replies to this:

1) Libertarianism is, at least in the U.S., a conservative position, since it seeks to CONSERVE the political values inherent in the country's founding, which is, at root, the definition of conservatism -- conserving the values of the founding revolution of your country.

2) If the social conservatives do not view big government as an avenue for putting forth their ideals in the marketplace of ideas but as the most potent obstacle to doing so, and thus want to make government smaller to get them out of their way, that is an inherently libertarian position. This is, in fact, the perspective that I have and that I encourage in all social conservatives.

5:47 PM, April 18, 2005  

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