Jonah Goldberg from National Review had a couple pieces today about Libertarianism, specifically they were in response to a recent "Libertarian Moment has Come" article in the NYT Magazine by Robert Draper.
Seems like most of the discussions here at the moment are about what's going on in Ferguson. So, sorry for going off topic (but just a little bit). Goldberg makes some points about the majority of new libertarians motivations for choosing to be libertarian (or choosing to say that they are). These points I don't really take much issue with, as there will be bandwagoners for everything and if any movement got rid of them to maintain purity, it'd be hard to gain any sort of momentum and enter the mainstream.
The point I wanted to bring up here though was what Goldberg says about the Libertarian approach to community, essentially positing that community and libertarian ideals (or the general rhetoric of the movement) are at odds and because of this he has trouble sympathizing too much with libertarians (foreign policy is also a point of contention for him, but that's for another discussion).
I'm normally a fan of what Goldberg has to say, but these points didn't quite sit right with me. The other article where he brings this up most forcibly is in his newsletter which isn't posted online yet, but I'll copy and paste the relevant quotations below. He says that for Ayn Rand as well as Obama there is just government and the individual and in both world views the two are at odds, the only differences are with whom power should most lie.
Personally I feel that there's plenty of room for community in Randianism and Libertarianism. Heck, Galt's Gulch as one big community of society's most productive members. Maybe I'm just being a "selective libertarian", and that's why I wanted to bring this up here, but isn't the freedom to form communities, for the communities to devise their own rule system, and to enforce those rules on willing participants and members of that community still a fundamentally libertarian idea?
I personally get frustrated when people express this notion that to be libertarian is to be some sort of anarchist. That libertarians believe there is no room for government or organizing principles under which communities should form and cooperate together. From what I've learned at least, there is no such notion. Hayak, Bastiat, and Rand all expressed the need for government and the rule of law (and the ability to enforce those laws) in some form or another.
Anyway, I'd like to see what other members of this community have to say on this point as I think it's an interesting topic. And if indeed this is a misrepresentation of Libertarian ideas, then obviously the movement has a bit of a PR problem in getting the right message out, which as obstacles go is not such an insurmountable one.
Here are the relevant points from Goldberg's G-File:
"Perhaps the most annoying thing about libertarianism is its blind spot about the importance of community. Ayn Rand and Barack Obama share the view that there are only two important institutions: the individual and the state. The difference is Rand thought the state is evil and Barack Obama thinks it is awesome. The truth is closer to the middle. Well, let me modify that. The state in the Bismarckian/Wilsonian sense sucks. But government is not evil. Oh, it can be. But it needn't be. Sure, semantically you can make the case that it is a necessary evil, but I don't think that's entirely fair. Nothing truly necessary can be evil. Gravity is not evil. Food and shelter are not evil. There are things we need to do collectively. That's why the Founders wrote the Constitution. Its genius lay in the fact that it understood that government is necessary but not sufficient for a good life."
"When it comes to the federal government in the domestic sphere, I'm pretty damned libertarian. But I am also damn near a hippy communitarian when it comes to everything else. The libertarians in Draper's essay talk a great game about individual liberty and there's no end of sneering at social conservatives. But in a truly free society individuals would be free to live conservatively. Far more important: They would be free to live conservatively in groups. We call these groups "communities." That means in a free society some communities would be free to establish rules that other people would find too constraining. What breaks my heart about Draper's essay is that it buys into Obama's view of society: Individuals versus the state. Bollocks. In such a denuded society the federal government will inexorably take charge of things it has no business taking charge of. Too many liberals and libertarians share the view that the government in Washington is the only government in the game. I agree entirely with libertarians that the feds shouldn't be in the business of telling anybody how to live. But local communities should have enormous — though not unlimited — latitude to organize around principles that some libertarians, conservatives, and liberals don't like."
This point in the article is off topic but it's a nice one pertaining to Liberals trying to hitch onto libertarianisms recent popularity:
"Another point (which I've made 8 trillion times). Liberals aren't libertarian about social issues! Libertarians don't believe in speech codes. They don't believe in racial quotas. They don't believe in cigarette bans. They don't believe private citizens should be forced to do business with people they don't want to do business with. They don't believe in socialized medicine or limits on soda sizes. I have contempt for both liberals who claim they are libertarians and for libertarians who find common cause with liberals who refuse to acknowledge this fact. Claiming to be socially liberal but fiscally conservative is one of the great dodges in American politics. But it pales in comparison to claiming that you're socially libertarian when you're in fact socially authoritarian." http://www.nationalreview.com/article/385446/americas-selective-libertarianism-jonah-goldberg