Monday, May 09, 2005

Who's Who? There's been quite a bit of smack talked on the blogs lately about who is or is not a libertarian (or Libertarian, your cherce). Here's a sample, bearing the now-infamous "neo" prefix. (Although they seem to be embracing it.) Seems to me that any political philosophy that gets to excommunicating folks based on policy disagreements is a little overly concerned with ideological discipline. It's always been the Achilles' heel of libertarianism to split hairs over dogma. Any wonder, then, that the movement goes nowhere at a national (or, hell, even local) level? I have nothing but respect for libertarians with a principled opposition to our overseas military adventures. Unfortunately, a lot of them seem to be the ones pointing fingers and saying, in essence, you can't be in the club anymore if you're pro-WOT. (A lot of liberals I know have done the same thing. Any disagreement makes you one of the Bushbot Drones.)

Principled folks whose libertarian bona fides are beyond question have sided with the Bush WOT view. And Stephen Green, mentioned in the linked post above, is one of those with nothing to prove. Add in folks like Randy Barnett, whose classical liberal street cred is . . . er, was impeccable. Ronald Bailey and Michael Young, both of Reason, have also been appreciably more pro-intervention than most of their colleagues (and have likewise been tagged a "libertarian imperialists").

The point is, you can excommunicate over just about any issue -- including, for example, abortion, a subject that classical liberal godfather Nat Hentoff dissents on. I don't mean to say that, next thing you know, you're airbrushing them out of the class photo, but you get the idea. We can all get together on the free markets stuff, but some of us think terrorism is a clear and present danger. Can we proceed from there?

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