Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Libertarian illusions

A common view among some of my libertarian friends is that libertarianism is taking great strides forward because political independents tend to be accepting of homosexuality and immigration, favoring changes in drug policy and other such lifestyle issues. Yet these views reflect their social liberalism, not any adhesion, whether deliberate or covert, to libertarianism. 

As a rule, the independents part company from libertarians because they believe that there is a substantial, healthy role for government. They are skeptical of the virtues of privatization (just look at the debacle in our prisons). While many independents accept that deregulation would be helpful in some areas, the majority feel that more regulation is needed to curb pollution and global warming. Most agree that if we are to avoid another 2008, banking and the financial sector need very stringent regulation, more than we have now. And don't even THINK of touching social security. 

If the claims of a great trend to libertarianism were true, we would see a major shift in voting patterns. Avowed libertarians would win. Yet by and large they do not.

ADDENDUM.  Two fallacies are common in libertarian advocacy. First, is the confusion of convergence with causality. For example, a growing segment of the population favors decriminalizing marijuana. And so do libertarians. But the rest of the people do not derive their convictions about decriminalizing from libertarianism, and do not in any way endorse its overall program. 

The second fallacy occurs when some particular item of the vast libertarian laundry list is endorsed, however fleetingly. This cherry picking, if it even amounts to that, scarcely signifies conversion to libertarianism. 

For many people the crisis of 2008, perceived as the consequence of lax regulation, has spelled the end of the economic program of libertarianism. That program disposed of, one has only the social issues. And there, the phenomenon of convergence rules, not conversion.


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