You should read every last word of this

Bryan Caplan on why Libertarians should be conservative.

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His argument is catastrophically unpersuasive, so I'm not sure what you're getting at.

I read every last word. I

I read every last word. I agreed with some of it, but only because I already agreed. It was completely unpersuasive.

In fact I think that

In fact I think that libertarians should be conservatives. But I don't mean (unlike Caplan) that libertarians should be anti-libertarians in this or that conservative direction. I mean that a whole lot of conservatism is completely compatible with libertarianism, because it concerns how people minding their own business ought individually to behave - how they should treat themselves, family members, friends, neighbors, and strangers, how they should treat custom, and so on. Conservatism is not only about what occasion is a good occasion to apply coercive force.

i think you should save the

i think you should save the "you should read every last word of this" line for articles that aren't complete garbage.

"Why libertarians should be

"Why libertarians should be conservatives..." should be retitled "why libertarians should become statists..."

Sorry, you can't stay libertarian in anything but name and be a statist as Caplan desires.

I thought Caplan's article was arguing

that libertarians should forget about their principled opposition to aggression and learn to not rock the boat too much.

In fact, I would have thought it more useful if he had bothered to define "conservatism." He seems to have an implicit definition of, "A conservative holds the official Republican Party position on each isolated issue." Of course, he doesn't define "libertarianism" either, and I am probably hoping for too much to think that every reader is as familiar as I am with "adherence to the non-aggression principle" as a definition of libertarian ideology.

The article avoids any objective basis for comparing ideology. All I learned from it is that Caplan thinks that libertarians may have some good points, but they shouldn't be so extreme. Why? Because Caplan doesn't like it.

Well, reading Caplan's

Well, reading Caplan's followup, it's clear that Caplan was not speaking in his own voice in the first entry and did not believe what he was saying. No wonder it was not persuasive. Caplan is not really in the mind of conservatives, and so is unable fully to articulate their reasoning, which in any case would not fit in such a brief space.

"It's clear that Caplan was not speaking in his own voice"'s clear that Caplan was not speaking in his own voice...

Okay. I missed that. Glad to see that he was only reporting--maybe even caricaturing--a position, rather than putting his full effort into it. Maybe that's why Jacob thought it was so important for me to read every word!

Inside every partisan libertarian

Inside every partisan libertarian is a thin libertarian screaming to get out. Walter Block gives it a voice in Libertarianism is Unique and Belongs Neither to the Right nor the Left: A Critique of the Views of Long, Holcombe, and Baden on the Left, Hoppe, Feser, and Paul of the Right. I am still reading through the Reader's Digest version.

He quotes Lew Rockwell at length criticizing the idea that conservatives and libertarians enjoy a natural alliance:

"The problem with American conservatism is that it hates the left more than the state, loves the past more than liberty, feels a greater attachment to nationalism than to the idea of self-determination, believes brute force is the answer to all social problems, and thinks it is better to impose truth rather than risk losing one’s soul to heresy. It has never understood the idea of freedom as a self-ordering principle of society. It has never seen the state as the enemy of what conservatives purport to favor. It has always looked to presidential power as the saving grace of what is right and true about America.

"I'm speaking now of the variety of conservatism created by William Buckley, not the Old Right of Albert Jay Nock, John T. Flynn, Garet Garrett, H.L. Mencken, and company, though these people would have all rejected the name conservative as ridiculous. After Lincoln, Wilson, and FDR, what's to conserve of the government? The revolutionaries who tossed off a milder British rule would never have put up with it.

"For my part, I'm hoping that the whole conservative movement will go down in flames with the decline and fall of the Bush administration. The red-state fascists have had their day and instead of liberty, they gave us the most raw and stupid form of imperial big government one can imagine. They have given America a bad name around the world. They have bamboozled millions. They have looted and bankrupted the country."

Block warns, "I see ... a burgeoning schism within the libertarian movement, between left- and right-wing libertarians. Each is moving toward the position, as I see it, of excluding the other, or removing themselves from the other. That would be a tragic mistake. Both are in error in this regard."

I've been a fan of Walter

I've been a fan of Walter Block since the mid eighties when I read Defending the Undefendable. A few of the defenses seemed to me weak but most of them were fine and in any case I believe I almost always agreed with the conclusion, even if on different grounds. I think in one he may have defended the counterfeiter, which I did not agree with, because I thought that just because the state did it, that did not make it right for a private individual to do it. Fiat money is a violation of rights (it is supported by force preventing alternative moneys from being created) and it is wrong for a private individual as well to profit from this great crime by participating in the manufacture of money. Or so I thought at the time. I may have changed my mind since then - considering that the individual is not directly involved in the coercion. (I may even be confusing this with something else - it has been a long time since I read the book)

A few months or a couple of years ago, I don't know in what context, I saw him lumped with the "right libertarians", which I found odd.


Well Block certainly has certainly on some level allied himself with the Rockwell crowd, Hoppe etc. That of course is not to say he is by any means perfectly aligned with them philosophically. But I could see why people would make that connection.

Block once commented on No Treason that he thought Rockwell, Hoppe and Stephan Kinsella (of all people) were the worlds leading libertatian theorists. So he certainly doesn't think he's much at odds with them.