Libertarians Be Social Liberals?
by David Gordon: What
has been kind enough
to respond to my
review of his and Nick Gillespies recent
book, but I think that he has not fully come to grips with
the basic problem I tried to raise. It is common ground that libertarians
reject the initiation of force and support private property and
the market. My concern was that if one adds other requirements
to this definition, then those who accept the non-aggression principle
and the free market but do not meet these further requirements
have been wrongly excluded from libertarianism by the extended
example from the ones they discuss will illustrate my difficulty.
At one time, atheists who expressed their views openly put their
lives in danger. Nowadays, religious disbelief has become much
more widespread; and in societies like the United States, atheists
are free to say what they want. The fact that they are free from
persecution is from a libertarian standpoint all to the good,
but it does not follow from this that libertarians are required
to view the spread of atheism as desirable.
I am glad
to learn that Welch does not think that you have to like rock
music to be a libertarian. I stand corrected: apparently what
you have to like is that other people like rock music. You must
also deplore those who fear that this style of music will have
that on education, I have ignored his statement that the present
system cannot be saved. If one refers to the pages he cites, though,
one sees that what he and his co-author reject is the current
system of educational uniformity. Where do they call for the total
exclusion of government from education, even as an ideal? Again,
in their definition of libertarianism, they require that one believe
that the government is less efficient than the private sector.
But someone could think this and still maintain that the government
has a proper role to play in the economy, e.g., to remedy distributional
inequities. If I am not mistaken, Ronald Dworkin holds just this
combination of views; but he certainly is not usually taken to
be a libertarian.
how Ron Paul can be excluded from the libertarian mainstream and
mentions a number of articles in Reason about him. He does
not see that the point at issue is the implications of the definition
that he and Gillespie proffer. If this definition mandates that
libertarians are social liberals, then to the extent Paul is not
a social liberal, he fails to qualify. If Welch nevertheless considers
him one, he has not thought through what his own definition entails.
It is surprising
that he uses against me Murray Rothbards criticism of Hayeks
of Liberty, because Hayek defended a fairly conservative
view of the place of custom in morality. I fear that he would
not altogether qualify as a social liberal, in Gillespie and Welchs
sense; and to the extent that he does not, they could not count
him a libertarian in good standing. It would not be a good reply
to this to cite articles in Reason by themselves and others
written in celebration of Hayek. The point once again is what
their definition of libertarianism entails.
point. I think that Gillespie and Welch have a mistaken view of
libertarianism; but it does not follow that I deny their libertarian
credentials. That would depend on whether they meet the terms
of my definition, a matter that their book leaves me unable fully
by David Gordon
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