Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Conservatives hate liberty

I'm in a bit of a mood, so when I read Carson Holloway's vapid ramblings at Public Discourse, I had to respond...

Libertarianism, Conservatism, and Egalitarianism

His basic assertion is that conservatism includes intrinsic constraints on the role of the state, whereas liberalism lacks those constraints (and may even positively seek increased intervention), therefore conservatives are the natural allies of libertarians.

His arguments are completely empty, as you will see.

1) He says that since conservatives base their legislative preferences in ideas of stasis (whether "tradition" or "natural law"), they cannot prefer an ever-increasing role for government. In contrast, he says, liberals seek progress so there is no limit on what they want.

I don't even know where to start with pointing out the nonsense of this statement. For one thing, society changes, and as it changes it comes into conflict with tradition. Therefore, it doesn't matter if "tradition" changes, the reach of conservative legislation will expand to include all aspects of life that deviate from the "traditional" ideal. Another problem is that even if conservatives convince themselves that their ideas are static, they are not. Notions of "tradition" change, as do ideas like "natural law" (or whatever ideology tomorrow's conservatives embrace). What's more, many supposedly "traditional" ideas are not. The self-proclaimed traditionalists ignore the diversity that has always existed in American society (and all societies) -- they claim precedence for their own way solely as an excuse to dismiss everyone else's lifestyle and belief. Their "tradition" is not my tradition.

2) He says: "For example, the conservative defense of traditional marriage does nothing to limit individual freedom, since it would merely deny governmental recognition to same-sex unions while leaving homosexuals free to live however they wish."

Not too long ago, the conservatives were trying to punish sodomy and miscegenation. Forget them. If liberals hadn't defeated them, these activities would still be illegal. I can concede that the absence of state recognition for homosexual marriage is far from the worst injustice in the world, but it is still a restriction of liberty for the state to give preference to one group or one lifestyle over another. If a conservative cannot recognize this, he is an idiot.

3) The  next issue he addresses is the contrasting ideas about human failings -- for conservatives it is original sin, for liberals it is faulty social institutions.

Well, here the his argument is backwards. If men are born as sinners, yet rescued by worshiping zombie-Jesus, then there is a clear basis for one group (Christians) to dominate another (e.g. heathens, atheists, heretics). However, if our institutions are faulty, then there is also a clear basis for eradicating the state.

Conservatives must hate liberty.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

the "constrained" vs "unconstrained" model--which is conservative intellectual argument invention--is a Bullshit model. It is, of course, used to justify protectionism(i.e., enforcing conservative moral foundations) as a necessary condition for liberty("ordered liberty").

I read this essay, but I had already criticized the same argument a couple of times before: