I recently received a glorious piece of what one might describe as “hate mail.” It was pretty short, which was disappointing. It’s like having a quarter cup of coffee in the morning to invigorate and inspire your day. Not nearly enough.
In any case, one sentence, which the writer agreed to let me post, was as follows:
In short, you’re hardly a good libertarian. You are a closet paleo-con who would rather see the culture revert back to old fashioned ways and prefers the past to the present.
(Okay, two sentences). I have several thoughts on this. First, the underlying assumption here is that one who has conservative views on culture and society and religion cannot be a “good” libertarian. But it seems to me that in order to be a “bad libertarian,” one must hold to positions that contradict the libertarian creed. And since the critic could not find an area in which I contradict the libertarian creed, he has no basis on which to claim that I am not a good libertarian.
If a libertarian holds to a certain set of propositions relating to the ethical status of activities taken up by the State, then his view of culture is irrelevant to his status as a libertarian.
Now, as for my personal outlook on society and culture, it is true that I am in the minority of libertarians because of my emphasis on the goodness of (the Christian) religion and the fact that I despise social progressivism and various forms of libertinism. Inasmuch as the paleo-cons have an Old World outlook on things, are nostalgic for a better past, and are hesitant about embracing the future, there is no doubt in my mind that I relate to this group. But there is nothing here which contradicts the libertarian understanding of rights and the State.
In fact, and don’t tell the progressivist libertarian Watch Dogs, I probably relate better to the paleo-cons than the present libertarian mass. But this is because I relate better to the dying remnant of cultural conservatives than pop-society in general. As the future rushes toward the present, and the youth grow older, culture becomes more and more liberal and seems to actively aim for a Grand Separation from conservative principles. For the same reasons that Hans-Hermann Hoppe is generally rejected from the libertarian world at large (he is labeled a sexist, racist, etc. –which is typical progressivist accusation against the conservative), for those same reasons I also don’t expect to be the Next Big (Libertarian) Thing. From the linked piece above, here is a quote:
…notice Hoppe says “multi-cultural-egalitarian life style experiments.” What does he mean by that? Well, he worries about things like “vulgarity, obscenity, profanity, drug use, promiscuity, pornography, prostitution, homosexuality, polygamy, pedophilia or any other conceivable perversity or abnormality.”
The author disapproves of Hoppe’s cultural preferences. Well, I share Hoppe’s concerns.
Now, am I a paleo-con? It’s a difficult question to answer and my appreciation for the paleo-cons is surely not closeted. I see no reason to hide behind the closet doors and I have never attempted to do so. But to be simple, inasmuch as their cultural preferences are in line with Biblical ethics, I agree with them; and inasmuch as their desire is for the State to be limited I agree with them. Like Hoppe, my strict libertarian position on the State might lead to some technical differences with the paleo-cons on the role of the State, but in regards to culture and social outlook, there is much in them with which I certainly identify. Shockingly, on a holistic level (that is, in consideration of many factors outside of only the State), I have a far greater appreciation for paleo-cons such as Paul Gottfried than I do culturally left libertarians such as Jeffrey Tucker. This causes me to hold those rare (these days) libertarians who are also very conservative socially (Tom Woods, Hans Hoppe, Ron Paul, the later Murray Rothbard, the later Joe Sobran) in very high regard.
The State is not our only enemy. Libertarianism is a thin political theory. We must formulate positions on matters outside of politics. And when we do, we realize that there are intellectual opponents everywhere. To take a stand against cultural marxism and progressivist social libertines, the paleo-cons are great friends. And it so happens that, while they aren’t perfect on the nature of the State, the paleo-cons are bitter opponents to the Big-Statists in neo-conservative and mainstream conservative circles.
Am I a paleo-con? Depends on the context and how it is being defined. I prefer paleo-libertarian.
See my Being Conservative and Libertarian for more.