Monday, November 06, 2006

Where the real trouble lies

Kevin Carson articulates something I've been thinking but hadn't been able to put in words very well:

What are the most important issues in American politics? The ones you never hear about because the two major parties agree on them.

This points to something related that I've been thinking about: The real threat to liberty, at the moment, isn't right-wing religious fanatics who want to impose the Christian equivalent of sharia, or left-wing nutjobs who want to nationalize the economy; it's the so-called "vital center." Life under Christian reconstructionists or communists would be awful, but the chances of them taking over any time soon are slim. Most of the things I find most offensive, oppressive, and destructive about the state's current activities- the drug war is the big one here, but economic interventionism and public education rank highly too- are, indeed, the things that are simply taken for granted by both mainstream parties.

This seems to lend some credence to the increasingly popular notion that libertarians should try to recruit from leftists- however dreadful their proposed solutions may be, people on the far left are at least aware of the fact there is something terribly wrong with the narrow range of options permitted by "respectable" political opinion. They're less likely to be slaves to what "everyone knows" is acceptable, which creates an opportunity for libertarians. I'm less optimistic on this subject than the left-libertarians are, mostly due to observations made when debating with leftists on mailing lists during my my younger days, but I still think it's worth pursuing.

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Chip said...

I suspect that far more registered Republicans convert to the Libertarian Party than do registered Democrats. I grant that it's possible such conversions have been accelerated by the performance of the current administration and in particular by Iraq.

But if the generality is true, then logically libertarians would seem to have much better pickings among the right, rather than the left, in terms of recruitment. A strong example is the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms. Not many liberals support that, yet it is a plank in the LP platform and many Republicans base their entire political outlook on its fortunes.

The LP should have some extrapolation or data that would confirm from what party we are most successful in "converting."

Since we are talking about major issues that are never addressed with the public by the two mainstream parties, I'd like to know your views, perhaps in a separate post, about foreign aid.

John Markley said...

Well, I don't think libertarians should seek to get recruits ONLY from the left. Certainly, we should still seek to persuade Republicans as well. I used to be a Republican myself. My suspicion, though,is that by this point, the low-hanging fruit on that side of the spectrum has already been picked; I think that most people who still consider themselves Republicans after six years of Bush, the war, the domestic spending increases, etc. are probably not going to be readily converted at this point, even if they agree with us on a few issues. On the other hand, if Republican turnout is poor tomorrow, that may mean that some recently disillusioned conservatives may be potential recruits.

I think the left may become a more fertile recruiting ground because, for the last few years, they've learned a hard lesson: sometimes your foes will be in control. Government abuses like Waco under the Clinton administration turned my old Republican self into a libertarian, by showing me how nasty the state can be; I'm hoping Bush will have a similar effect on some people on the left.

This has been a bit rambling; I'll probably organize it into a proper post later.

Quick summary of my opinion of foreign aid: I'm opposed. It's unjust to those who are forced to pay for it, and often hurts the recipient countries by propping up dictators, encouraging expensive public works boondoggles, and so on.

Chip said...

I agree on foreign aid, all the way round. In fact, it seems to me that if we are operating at a budget deficit, we are actually borrowing the money that we give as aid.

So many topics...why do we have Hyundai and Kia plants booming in the South and still have 40,000 troops assigned to Korea? Again, no politician, save Ron Paul, will address this.

I just hope thar never again does one party simultaneously control the House, the Senate and The Presidency.

Kevin Carson said...

Thanks for the link. Your phrase about the menace of the "vital center" is a meme that deserves to be spread far and wide.

Chip, the problem with the right is that they're likely to be friendly to all the "free market" rhetoric for the wrong reasons. They claim to love small government and free markets, while worshipping a system whose primary result is government intervention.

I'm fairly sympathetic to the segments of the grass-roots right who are into homeschooling, gun rights, etc. But my impression of the mainstream right (the neocons and Hannidiots) is that they're essentially enemies who are willing to use our rhetoric.

The left, on the other hand, are friends who don't realize it yet. All the things they hate--the same things the mainstream right loves--are the result of government intervention. But they believe it's the "market."

The left generally hate the right things, and correctly identify the problems; they just lack the correct analysis of what's causing them. The phony free market right, on the other hand, uses superficial "free market" analysis to justify statism.

Chip said...

Kevin -- fair points. Thanks for the "balance." I have many friends on the left and the right, though I tend to discuss politics more with those on the right. I find that my creed, "Less government, more liberty," tends to resonate much better with the ones on the right, but then they are not Exxon types. Unfortunately, they do fall for the party-line spouted on major media.

Care to discuss foreign aid, if John wants to moderate that?

Chip said...

A bit late, but I should have added that the voters on the right do not think like the elected officials who claim to be on the right. There is a good piece about that on today's (Thu.) Lew Rockwell site. The lied, big time, and have paid the appropriate price, IMO.