Everyone who is a converted libertarian knows that being a libertarian is like being disrespected and disowned by everyone at once. In mainstream politics, you are basically the “I’m special!” party, and in ideological and political conversations, you are seen as the, “Well in my system, everything is perfect!” guy. The hedonic tendencies of your average libertarian is leagues beneath what the original Austrian Economist (“classical liberal”) thinkers of the early and mid 20th century really represented, which was cogent and pragmatic criticism of the state’s intervention in personal and economic affairs that ought to be left to, at best, decentralized governments democratically elected by the people. The crux of 20th century, classical liberalism is a testament to trying to modernize a system that had clearly been failing from the get-go, especially ever since the West decided that it would overhaul the idea of classes, hierarchy, divine right, and any other aristocratic, classical ideals that set it apart from the chaos of savage societies.
In Ludwig von Mises’ Human Action, the crux of Mises’ argument for as stateless a society as possible is founded in the idea that man always acts on his own self-interest. Importantly, this is the basis of the entirety of Austrian Economic thought, and really, any realist approach to economics takes into account that no matter what, man acts in favor of himself. One can divvy up the “favor” definition, and the “action” definition, but all definition comes down to a cold, Randian view that is most certainly true and the foundation of economic thought. To think that man is somehow wholly and utterly compelled to act against his own interest without the auspice of coercion, is ludicrous. Why even in socialist countries have we seen the entropy of cynicism and the state’s all-encompassing dogmatic veneer that leads those within the socialist prison-nation to feel compelled to bribe their way out of this country (voting with their feet), or bribing their way up the ladder of work to hopefully become an apparatchik.
The simple fact is that, in all societies, ancient and modern, religious or nonreligious, intellectual or savage, peaceful or wartorn, that man is always driven by his inherent desire to fend for his own interests; interests that almost always include his own pleasures, his own family, and his own safety.
This is the basis of realist economics, but it is also the basis for libertarian ideology. What is libertarianism, though? Libertarianism, simply, is the rejection of the state’s default condition as morally consistent, inherently good, or non-coercive. A government will always change “with the times,” will always do what it can to garner the most power, and will, through the nature of being human-run, coerce its own people to offer it up more and more power. However, the modern libertarian movement has been more so defined by what it isn’t than what it may represent. The adherents to libertarian thought are likely to be socially liberal, nonreligious, and hedonic. They are not generally the best people to be representing you, nor especially running a government. The types who populate the rhetorical functions of modern politic and media are normally your renegade, weed-smoking, gay-moderate types. At best, they’re hypermoderate Ron Paul types who just want to get rid of the Federal Government as much as humanly possibly while not touching any last bits of Christian moral legislation left in jurisprudential diction.
To be a libertarian in a spiritually-ailing, declining Western country is very much a game of charades, at this point. Maybe twenty years ago, you could say, “I’m a libertarian!” and it might bring up a fun conversation at the barbeque; get a few people thinking about why they want to tell other cultures and peoples how they must abide by their culture and values. It was always a nice midwit moment, when some Big Bang Theory fan could bring up his support for Harry Browne or Ron Paul, or bring up some Murray Rothbard literature and get everyone thinkin’ big!
Unfortunately, those days are past us, and we have moved onto the last political epoch of American politic. The Libertarians (both big L, and effective small l ones) failed miserably at ever getting whatever point they were trying to make across to the rest of the nation. Here and there they might have chimed in on the weed meme, or before that gay marriage, or before that tax laws, but did any of that really benefit the nation as a whole? Did we really benefit from some geek, some nerd telling us about how, “Well, actually, gays are okay, and it ain’t none of your business to….”, you get the point.
Libertarianism, in its current form, needs to die a miserable death. Unfortunately, Hoppe brought up twenty years ago how libertarians need to change, and quick. They didn’t. They actually got worse. So it seems his solution of realizing strict paleoconservatism, but not quite catch-all conservatism, was correct, but just didn’t resonate. Maybe he was too early? I think he was. Honestly, though, the internet really did bring about a wonderful revolution in communication that has finally completed the process of establishing a comorbid understanding of hating state-worship while maintaining traditional values. Win-win!
Although I have spoken on why conservatives need to be strict economic free-marketers, I think it is important to rally the troops. Conservatives, and whatever derivative you find yourself as (God help you if you call yourself an ancap or anarchist), the solution to the issue of low economic growth, low population growth, crappy infrastructure, muh jerbs, welfare and its control over minorities, the importation of illegals to replace yer jerbs, isn’t a matter of “the state just needs to do the thing I like!” Sorry, NO.
Libertarians, the issue to high taxation, government coercion, centralization of power in a greedy, out-of-touch state, malinvestment, etc aren’t an outcome of the state as an idea. It is an outcome of an overly-liberalized society.
What both conservatives and libertarians must shake hands on is that we can only maintain what we have by embracing that a centralized, secular, anti-traditionalist state was a massive failure. We must all come together, sing kumbaya, and understand that the state doesn’t solve economic and existential woes (except war), that’s what family and community are for. Likewise, we still need a state for instances of war, and to maintain some level of cultural ties and leadership that would otherwise be clan and tribal warfare.
So yes, Hoppe was right, but he was either too early or too hopeful. What trads who don’t and won’t ever understand basic economics must get is that the state can’t just issue reality through fiat.
What geek economists must understand is that spiritual and traditional structure is a virtue and leads to a healthy society that actively protects the free market and its productive capacity to bring about what everyone wants.
We understand? Yay! Now go, and spread the great news!
“The truth will set you free, but first it will piss you off.”