December 19, 2013

Tom Woods: Thick and Thin Libertarianism, and Duck Dynasty

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By Tom Woods

I am in haste, as I always am these days because of the time I’m spending creating course material for the Ron Paul homeschool curriculum, but a quick note about Duck Dynasty. My wife really likes the show. I myself haven’t been able to get into it. I just find it boring. I realize I’m in the minority.

Having said that, I thought the whole matter of Phil Robertson brought up an interesting issue for libertarians. Some libertarians say the traditional libertarian principle of nonaggression is insufficient. That is merely “thin” libertarianism, they say. We also need to have left-liberal views on religion, sexual morality, feminism, etc., because reactionary beliefs among the public are also threats to liberty. This is “thick” libertarianism.

As a “thin” libertarian myself (or what in the past was simply called a libertarian), I reject the claims of the thickists. I see no good reason to expand the list of requirements people must meet in order to be admitted to our little group. If they support nonaggression, they are libertarians.

But if the thickists are concerned that certain cultural attitudes might be dangerous to liberty, why do I never hear them express concern that the hysteria of the cultural Left might be prejudicial to liberty? Why is it only the traditional moral ideas of the bourgeoisie that are supposed to be so threatening? Could this be yet another double standard?

Everyone in American society now knows there are certain things they must never say, lest they be banished from polite society by the opinion police. The opinion police do not believe competing views have a right to exist. Yes, yes, in theory they do. But in practice they seek out and destroy anyone who does not accept fashionable opinion on a range of questions. Couple this with thought-control organizations like the Southern Poverty Law Center, which conflates “hate” with unconventional views — having condemned such purveyors of violence and hate as Judge Napolitano and Ron Paul (note to the brain-dead: that is sarcasm) — and which actually collaborates with law enforcement, and isn’t the result far more dangerous to liberty than the fact that lots of people dissent from the new orthodoxy on sex?

Yet I haven’t come across a thickist who seems concerned about this. Maybe I haven’t been looking hard enough. I doubt it.

via Thick and Thin Libertarianism, and Duck Dynasty | Tom Woods.

Written by C.Jay Engel

Editor and creator of The Reformed Libertarian. Living in Northern California with his wife, he writes on everything from politics to theology and from culture to economic theory. You can send an email to reformedlibertarian@gmail.com