David Kirkpatrick

July 16, 2010

Jonah Goldberg and cogent arguments …

… are mutually exclusive.

This is a very interesting take at Reason on where libertarianism is heading. It features three essays:

  • (Reason) Contributing Editor Brink Lindsey is vice president for research at the Cato Institute. He writes from the libertarian perspective stating libertarians need a clean break from the conservative political movement.
  • Jonah Goldberg is editor-at-large of National Review Online and a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute. Goldberg argues libertarianism should retain and seek out ties to the conservative movement.
  • Matt Kibbe is president of FreedomWorks. He makes the argument the Tea Party movement is a libertarian movement.

It’s a long read for online content, but certainly worth the time if you are interested in libertarianism and are curious how to reconcile today’s political climate in the United States with a fiscally conservative/socially liberal stance.

The extended title refers to Goldberg’s essay. He’s certainly no intellectual heavyweight (or even light middleweight for that matter) and almost exclusively falls back on talking points from up on high and straw men in both his short- and long-form writing. This contribution to Reason did not disappoint on that measure.

To keep this short I’ll just point out one particularly egregious example.

Here’s Goldberg from graf six:

For starters, why should libertarianism be so hostile to culturally conservative values? Isn’t libertarianism about freedom, including the freedom to live conservatively if that’s what people choose?

Er, Jonah, libertarianism is not hostile to conservative values in the least and certainly all people should have the freedom to live conservatively, or not, if they choose. The problem comes when conservative values become the law of the land through bad policy. When this happens all people don’t have the opportunity to live as they choose. Only conservatives are permitted that right.

So it pays to remember, and to be intellectually honest, in recognizing there is a huge difference in being hostile to conservative values and hostile to conservative laws. Libertarians tend to dislike the heavy hand of the state in all spheres of influence. The free market for sure, but just as much in the free mind and body.

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