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'Niceguy' Eddie

Political Talk Show Host and Internet Radio Personality. My show, In My Humble Opinion, aired on RainbowRadio from 2015-2017.

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Tuesday, August 10, 2010

"Conservatives" vs. "Libertarians"

Let this sink in...

I came across this over on PoliticalIrony.com.  This is exemplary of the case I've been making for awhile now that "conservative" no longer means what it used to.  Or anything at all, in fact.  That what we have in the Republican Party today is not "Conservatives" but rather Right-Wing and/or Religious RADICALS.  They can talk about "small government" all they want, but it no longer means anything.  It's not REALLY part of their platform anymore. (DHS anyone?) Its just something they throw out there so they don't look like idiots when they push for more tax cuts immediately after complaining about the deficit.  (Too late.)

Because THIS?  THIS is what "small government" looks like.  Libertarianism.  Now I'm NOT a Libertarian.  I COULD BE a moderate one - they're the only part of the Republican party that I have the least bit of respect for.  And I could definitely vote for one, provided that they held Social Libertarianism as highly as Fiscal Libertariansm.  But unfortunately the TRUE libertarians in the Republican Party (like Judge Walker) are pretty much GONE, replaced by Social Conservatives [Religious Radicals] who merely want to lower taxes and deprive the government of its ability to regulate industry.

Because the TRUE Libertarian, the CLASSIC Conservative, would support Judge Walker's decision.  S/he'd also be pro-choice on abortion.  And favor the legalization of Marijuana.  These are ALL "small government" positions.  They are all what the world would like like if, as Ronald Reagan claimed would happen, Government would "get off our backs."  But I'm still waiting, 30 years later, for Government to stop getting MORE on my back.  And with the Social Libertarians now completely marginalized in the Republican party, and Obama's and the Dems' continuous kowtowing to the Right, I don't it happening anytime soon.

Just remember what's REALLY going on here.  "Conservative" is just a niceer sounding (read: better polling) word that the Radical, Religious Right has co-opted to obfuscate their true agenda.  There is nothing "conservative" about them.  It just about Fear, Power and Money.  They use Religion (Fear) to get people to vote for them (Power) so they can pay little or no taxes, and their companies can pollute, exploit and otherwise screw over the public in their reckless pursuit of proifit (Money.)


  1. Some (Maybe Annoying) Notes on Terminology

    Traditionally, a "radical" is a lefty, not a righty. The word for which you're using "radical" in this context is, more properly, "reactionary." Those on the extreme right are practitioners of reaction, not radicalism.

    A "libertarian," anywhere in the world except the U.S. (and only in the U.S. in recent decades) is an anarchist--a left-wing socialist. A few decades ago, a group of American conservatives lifted the word (not in common usage for a while in the U.S. at the time) and started using it to describe themselves. When I'm referring to the "libertarian" right, I always do it like that--put it in quotations.

    The thing with the "libertarian" right is that they've always been a miniscule fraction of conservatism. Even in the age of Goldwater, when William F. Buckley (mostly of the "libertarian" stripe) was considered the intellectual guru of American conservatism, his more "libertarian" views, like drug legalization, were utterly at odds with the mainstream of American conservatism.

    That's because such a view isn't really "conservative." It's liberal. Textbook liberalism.

    American liberalism has always been the main source of such views. Liberalism is, by definition, about freedom. If you want to talk about pro-choice on abortion, the advocates for it are almost all going to be of the left. Opposition to the Warn On Drugs? Same thing.

    That last gets to another important point: Rational anti-government sentiment is going to be found almost entirely on the left.

    I become quite angry when I see conservatives and even reactionaries described as "anti-government" (and I've been known to become apoplectic when that phrase is applied to fascist militia nuts). The right's opposition to "government" is directed against the few liberal democratic elements of government. Pubic regulation of corporations, progressive taxation, etc. When a judge strikes down California's Prop. 8, the conservatives present themselves as being oppressed because they've been denied the ability to oppress others.

    Liberal anti-government sentiment, on the other hand, is the real thing--rational wariness of the national security state, opposition to concentrated executive power, the danger of the alphabet soup agencies, etc. This sentiment is aimed at elements of the government acting in anti-liberal-democratic ways. The parts abut which we should be most worried. They're also the parts about which conservatives are, almost to a man, entirely unconcerned, as the conservative reaction to the Bush administration makes crystal clear.

    So I wouldn't say the "libertarian" right represents "true" conservatism. They've never been more than a tiny fraction of the overall right, but it is a fact that, in the age of Buckley, Goldwater, etc., they had a lot more influence.

  2. I find it interesting that GOP proposals seem to be at odds with liberalism (despite their consistent claims that they are here to defend our freedoms)...

    I think its sad that more Republicans didn't embrace Walker's decision, but then again, they can't practice what they preach...

  3. The "libertarian" right is an ideologically confused group, embracing social liberalism and extreme economic conservatism, but, perhaps more importantly than anything, rejecting liberal democracy, both in practice and as a concept, in favor of an absolutist notion of things like government duties and property that is no different, in any meaningful respect, from the Divine Right of Kings.

    I haven't seen much reaction to the Prop. 8 ruling by the "libertarian" right. The regular conservatives are screaming "judicial tyranny!" One with whom I regularly argue in a different venue actually came out against the Loving decision that eliminated anti-miscegenation laws!

  4. Classic,

    Whenever these terms come up, it is essential that the author go the extra step and define the context of the terms, and explain what they mean to THEM. Becuase as I've been laying out in several recent posts, and as you so astutely point out here, terms like "Conservtaive" and "Libertarian" not only mean something indfferent in the modern context, but also in the Geographic sense. (The Conservatives in Russia are the commuinists. The Conservtaives in the Middle East are the Islamists.) They also differ in the philisophical sense - "Conservtaive" being more about the status quo that any specific political position.

    One of my motivations behind playing a little fast and loose with the terminology HERE is that, contrary to the Right's claims and as you know, America is inherently a Liberal country - exactly as you are describing Liberalism here. And to the extent that we are "Conservative" we are "Libertarian" in the AMERICAN sense that I refer too... 'in quotes' as you put it.

    What we're NOT is a bunch of Religious Radicals (OK - or "Nut Jobs" if you don't like my connotation of Radical) of the kind that have taken over the Republican Party. For them to claim to have ANY connection to "Liberty" or "Freedom" or the "Fouding Fathers" or the "Constitution" is patently absurd. They calims on CHRISTIANTY itself are tenuous, at best. Their brand of Evangelical Christianity can only trace it's origins back to the tent revivalism of the 1930's and they were largely marginalized as kooks until the 1980's. (Thanks a LOT, Ronnie!)

    I guess in some way, I'm hoping that more Republicans will start taking their cues from Abraham Lincoln and Teddy Roosevelt, or at least from Eisenhower and Goldwater. I guess in some way I'm pining for the days in which the "Libertarians" were more of a plank in the platform, a leg in the stool instead of being denied a seat at the table. But, once again, you are absolutely correct - from top to bottom.

    Great comment. (By any chance does the moron disagreeing with "Loving" blanch at the suggestion that he's a racist?) Absurd. You said perfectly, they claim they're oppressed because they aren't allowed to oppress. It makes me sick.

    Thanks for your comment.

  5. KK,

    I assume you meant "Libertarianism" rather than "Liberalism." If that's the case, I hear you. But sadly, it's as Classic has described. The brief shining moment of intellectualism brought to the Right by Buckey has long since given way to the shcoolyard thugery of the likes of Limbaugh (and company.) Beck seems to be trying to turn that around - going from playing the bully to the victim - but I don't see it as an imporvement.

    Thanks for your comment.

  6. Eddie; Great post. Kudos to Classic for great points in both of his(?) posts.

    Tax cuts in a depressed economy are needlessly stupid - if tax cuts are so great, why don't we just pay _no_ taxes at all - then things will be just rosy. The Federal government will collapse (that's smaller, isn't it?) and the states can keep their money (that they have to mint themselves,) and not be forced to re-distribute the wealth. The border states can enforce immigration (they seem to want to,) coastal states can float their own navies (haven't heard much talk about that, yet,) and so on and so on.

    Modern 'radical right' or 'reactionaries' want to take the country back - back to at least the time before the 11th Amendment, perhaps before the Articles of Confederation.

    The Religious Right? I think they want to take the country back to the Colonies, if not before the Crucifixion - when Mosses' law held sway and you could stone those 'liberals'


  7. Okie,

    I love your take on their "take the country back" rhetoric! I agree, 100%.

    Thanks for your comment.