Thank you for your article in LRC today. I’ve added your blog to my rather short list of political ones. I was a registered Republican for more than forty years when, early in 2006, I switched to Libertarian. In my somewhat simple view of the political spectrum, I’ve always thought it a great shame, fostered by media sabotage, that liberalism (left) and conservatism (right) were not more clearly defined in principle, like the two ends of a teeter-totter. But when the media repeats and gets away with phrases like, “Right-wing Nazis.” all hope is lost. There are no true conservatives running our government today, yet they trick much of the public into believing they are. The only politician I care for is Dr. Ron Paul, though there may be others worthy and unknown to me.
Good luck to you in your writing and speaking; I look forward to reading more of your work.
Dan, your article about authoritarianism in the conservative movement was excellent.
My only disagreement is you characterization of the New Left as containing a signifiant element of libertarianism and Jeffersonianism. My take has always been that the New Left is essentially anti-individualist, because of its antipathy toward reason, in contrast to its embrace of various forms of irrationalism, such as emotionalism, eastern mysticism, etc. The New Left’s opposition to the Vietnam war reflected its conviction–as expressed to me by my then New Left brother–that the United States was supporting the wrong side in the conflict! This is a far cry from principled opposition to statism.
Undoubtedly, the virulent strain of statism that ran through the New Left accounts for its having morphed into its contemporary manifestation of anti-individualism and statism: the Green movement.
Thanks, those are both points I wish I’d made, particularly about the militant irrationalism of much of the New Left. There was a paragraph that didn’t make it into the final piece where I talked about how in some respects the populist New Right picked up the worst attributes of the New Left, such as the mindless urge to protest. (This was illustrated in 2000 with the Republicans clamoring outisde of the Florida courthouses where the recount was taking place. I know young men, some of them smart enough to have had enough of Bush by now, who nonetheless consider their participation in that nonsense to be the high point of their lives.) By now, both sides of the conventional political spectrum would rather feel than think — which of course leads to pointless clashes over feelings and utter neglect of the actual government policies that are screwing over everyone.
I think it’s correct to identify the reaction against the anti-war movement of the 1960′s as a determining point for the rise of the neocons from their ex-trotskyite, former “Scoop” Jackson, quasi-leftist roots to their formal entry into the right.
Looking back at libertarianism’s earlier roots, it seems that the separation from their traditional leftist roots into an affiliation with the right was a temporary association, even though currently the libertarian movement is neither particularly right nor left. Some, like Walter Block and Murray (RIP), call for a libertarian centrism, but I don’t see this as a permanent solution.
Historically, libertarians tend to be a small portion of the population and use leverage to make a cultural shift. In America, where we see this method used in more cases than any place else that I am aware of, this has been due to a desire to become involved in largely communalist, intentional community projects, building the social structure within local communities, blocking the rise or growth of federal and state power.
It may be that for our current situation, the libertarian’s natural breeding ground is the internet, where we can build our own networks amongst ourselves, in our local communities where we live, and through our economic spheres where we do business. A lot of the organizational work is done through leadership, and we have a rather large cacophony of leaders and wannabe’s.
I find it nearly impossible to predict success, although I’ve recognized one or two failures before they went bust. I don’t see any specific promising opportunity at this time which will make a definitive cultural change.
Mises.org is perhaps the best of the ones we have around currently and there have been no major schizms as of this date. This is very promising. Atlas Foundation is quite good, too. Maybe. We shall see.