Wednesday, September 12, 2007

SHORTER KAY S. HYMOWITZ: Libertarianism is an imperfect form of conservatism.

Most Wall Street Journal essays on libertarianism you don't even have to read, and this one is no exception. Hymowitz agrees with libertarians that all good things come from magic capitalism: for example, the stupid progressives who demanded workplace safety regulation should have just waited 80 years for America to lose its manufacturing base, and everything would have been alright. But she finds the unwillingness of libertarians to regulate morality and sexuality to be... unlibertarian:
Libertarianism did not have to take this unfortunate turn. Ludwig von Mises himself warned that the attempt (of socialists) to undermine the family was a ploy to strengthen the state. Hayek, too, grasped the family's role in upholding the free market. Coming of age in Europe around the time of World War I, he stressed the state's inefficiency but also warned, more generally, of the limits of human reason. "Hayek's economics was rooted in man's ignorance," Mr. [Brian] Doherty writes; so were his political views, which included both an enthusiasm for freedom and a Burkean respect for customs and institutions.

It is difficult to say why this aspect of libertarianism has faded away...
Maybe because outside the social studies classroom, Hymowitz' "Burkean respect for customs" means enforcement of moral codes better suited to a 17th century Pilgrim encampment than to the society we actually inhabit. And the Libertarian Party has no need to appease Religious Right yahoos to gain votes, because they rarely have any hope of being elected. In fact most libertarians vote for parties other than the LP, which probably best explains the existence of Hymowitz' essay. She knows libertarians like free markets, and hopes to weaken their attachment to the free minds part of the equation sufficiently to shore up that old Reagan coalition for one more election.

That she thinks the Ole Perfesser is a libertarian shows just how misguided she is.

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