Magazine article The American Conservative


Magazine article The American Conservative


Article excerpt


Contrary to the editors of The American Conservative ["Libertarianism's Limits," Jan./Feb. 2014], Ron Paul-style libertarianism's inability to provide an "integrated vision for the country as a whole" is a strength, not a weakness. The problems facing America today-from our hyper-interventionist foreign policy to our national debt-are rooted in the failed project of conservatism (both traditional and neo) and liberalism to govern America via an "integrated vision" that meets "the needs of most Americans."

In contrast, Ron Paul-style libertarianism, guided by the insights of Ludwig von Mises and other Austrian economists, recognizes that any attempt to impose an integrated vision of government is doomed to failure. Liberty, peace, and prosperity can only be assured when the people are protected from the central planners, democracy crusaders, do-gooders, and moral scolds of both left and right.

This is not to suggest that the liberty movement cannot benefit from serious analysis and criticism. In fact, every liberty activist could benefit from reading "Higher Culture, Better Politics" [Mar./Apr. 2014]. As the editorial points out, familiarity with culture can help ensure our scholars, writers, activists, and politicians present our ideas not just as abstractions but as concrete proposals of real relevance to real people.

Murray Rothbard, who no one ever accused of lacking in his devotion to ideology or serious scholarship, suggested that the libertarian "cadre" engage in "conscious efforts to cultivate humor, perspective, and well-rounded colleagues who appreciate sense-enjoyment as part of the truly good life" in order to ensure the movement did not become dominated by "humorless and puritanical fanatics." Engagement with culture is an obvious way to address Dr. Rothbard's concerns.

But libertarians and conservatives should not limit their concerns to high culture. As Andrew Breitbart was fond of saying, "politics is downstream from culture." The images, narratives, and ideas that people absorb from popular culture do shape their political beliefs, and libertarians and conservatives ignore popular culture at their peril.


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William S. Lind's suggestion ["An Officer Corps That Can't Score," Mar./Apr. 2014] that the Officer Corps is in a blind, intellectual death spiral is weighty indeed, but ignores the vast body of debate going on in the junior and senior ranks of our nation's military. …

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