Charles Murray almost had me. When I first read Murray ‘
Excellent post, Mr. Carter. As the great John Adams said,
“We have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion…Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.
Thanks, Jared. I appreciate your comments here and on your own blog. And I really appreciate that you took the time to read this monstrosity of a post.
After spending three hours on it I was afraid no one would bother to read such a lengthy piece.
That’s a GREAT point about their romanticized view of human nature. Conservatives understand that the first need of humans is order, and that liberty has a short half-life once human depravity is given free reign.
That said though, Murray has been a big influence on me. I first read “Losing Ground” back in middle school, and its analysis of th failures of liberal social policy cemented my views seemingly permanently. Even today I haven’t essentially shifted from his viewpoint.
I agree with you almost entirely on this subject. Libertarians take a good thing too far, which seems to be rooted in their rejection of Natural Law, sa you mentioned. As an aside, I like Larry Elder a lot… he is a libertarian who believes people need a moral law as well… sort of like Adams…
Mr. Carter, I think you should be teaching my philosophy class. Great post.
I don’t know about that. You don’t recognize the great explanatory power of utilitarianism. A (libertarian) utilitarian can simply say that while ‘freedom’ and rights to life and property are the only things intrinsically valuable, virtuous characters and “order” (whatever that is) are good things, but good only in so far as they are productive of freedom and reinforce the rights to life and property. And I don’t understand the relevance of the ad hominem at the end.
I’m no philosopher, nor am I very politically adept, and at debate I am a rank amateur. But you seem to be confusing Libertarianism with Anarchism. As a libertarian, I’m fully in support of the rule of law. More importantly, I recognize that there is no fine line between “freedom” and “oppression.”
Libertarians don’t believe that the world would be a PERFECT place if they had a little more freedom; but it might be at least a little bit better, and at the very least it’s worth a try. Many folks think that society is on a downhill slope, and has been doing so for decades; is the gradual erosion of personal rights over the last hundred years merely a coincidence?
As I mentioned in my post, libertarians do believe in the rule of law. The problem, in my view, is that they don
Like a laser, you have zeroed in on the very point which distinguishes conservatism from libertarianism. Generally, this means that conservatism’s principles are based on transcendent principles which are part of the warp and woof of creation. Specifically, the doctrine where the basic difference lies is that of original sin — which sadly doesn’t enjoy great traffic even amonst ostensive evangelicals, where current polls suggest that Pelagianism (the idea that humans are basically good, and all that entails soteriologically) is embraced by a solid majority. Kudos for concision, precision, and, where called for, incision!
Excellent post and responses especially the linking of “erosion of personal rights” and “moral decline.”
Personally, I have always thought that Liberarianism was a little gutless. They seemed to be conservatives that either did not know how or afraid to make moral decisions. In their frustration, they through up their hands and say “everyone figure it out for yourselves.” I have done this with my childeren on occation. But, I can only imagine the chaos that would ensue if this approach became the rule in my house.
Methinks you support your conclusions primarily by wrongly defining libertarianism. You assert that the libertarian view would decriminalize public drunkenness, prostitution (presumably the street corner or storefront variety) and vagrancy. A more accurate definition is that the libertarian would deny the state (or the majority, if you will) the power to tell an individual that he may not, in privacy, get drunk (whatever the intoxicant), employ a whore, fail to bathe and dress in rags, or make an embryo in a lab for the purpose of harvesting stem cells, or enjoy a host of other activities, absent a showing of harm to others or the community, OTHER THAN the harm, real or imagined, of just knowing such things go on (or, given that they’re going on regardless, knowing that such things are not illegal). Note that this definition leaves room for notions such as illegal nuisance — we shouldn’t have to see such activity on the streets; we can regulate how much traffic Honey Hooker can have going in and out of her apartment. However, if truly private and non-intrusive on the peace of the community (again, excepting those that lie awake at night worrying about it for lack of anything better to do) vice should be left to the individual. The law should be such not only for the more than adequate reason that a free human being’s conduct is his business, but because whatever harm, whatever degradation of the culture ensues from liberalizing vice laws (if there is any such degradation), a worse affliction is the empowerment of those who would pick up the impossibly heavy load of undertaking to enforce by law their view of morality on their fellows. No one is saying that those called to preach morality should not do so in church, by protesting in the streets, or, certainly, by teaching their children the morals they embrace. Moral suasion backed by threat of jail or a fine, on the other hand, is an insupportable tyranny, and the world can ill-afford to encourage that type of tyrant. Please also note that these tyrants are as ubiquitous on the left as the right; I’m not picking on Christian anti-libertarianism, at least not in particular.
My libertarian friends sound more like victims than pioneers. They whine, “I’m just a victim and the government is to blame for my problems. Could it possibly be your own decisions, attitudes, and effort caused your problems. So, what is the best form of government. Easy, the best form of government for practicing perfect freedom is a monarchy. Which is what we have in heaven. However, since we live for now on earth, our republic form of government is an excellent temporary form of government. I am amazed at the wisdom of our founding fathers. They had first hand experience with the corruption of government and they found the right balance between society and the individual. My instincts tell me the problems with our society is not our form of government. Libertarianism doesn’t want to admit that the heart of man is deceitful and needs to be held in check. Its funny how we all yearn for the Garden of Eden.
I have to disagree strongly with the caricature being drawn against libertarianism. While I believe it can be argued that many libertarians do not believe in original sin, those who are ‘believers’ do believe that there is such thing as original sin but also that God gives us all free will. Conservatism believes that it is ‘possible’ to hold back the tides of human sin and degradation by government fiat. That is not possible which is why I agree with Joe McDermott (partially). As well, they also know that human beings are not ‘islands’, but it is also true that the good things we do CAN lead to negative consequences. For example, it is good that we don’t kill toddlers, but if one toddler was destined to become an Adolf Hitler? By the logic people are using, it should be ok to murder some toddlers..just like the pro-aborts use the logic that less crime means it is ok to kill unborn babies.
If we go along the line of reasoning that people are espousing, it DOES lead to tyranny. Pure and simple. I have been thinking about this for quite some time, and yet, I find the conservative argument a little wanting. I have been going back and forth about it..but now, I am beginning to see how this ‘no one is an island’ argument (and such) simply make no sense.
I believe that God can make good come out of evil things, similarly, the devil can make bad come out of the good in this world. That is why sin is, inherently, the corruption of ‘the good’.
That is why the ‘no one is an island’ argument simply does not work with me.
The libertarian definition of government is beginning to make more sense. As to Joe McDermott’s idea that libertarianism tolerates harvesting little human lives for commercial benefit..he is horribly mistaken. He assumes that killing off preborn children does not cause any direct harm to someone..indeed it DOES. It kills the children! Libertarianism at heart is a prolife ethic…since it endorses the idea that all humans have the right to life and property, it also embraces personal responsibility.
God bless all,
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