Blogs > Liberty and Power > American Spectator

Aug 23, 2004 2:32 pm

American Spectator

The current American Spectator includes an attack on a column I wrote a few months ago for FOX News. (Discussion of the attack and issues raised is currently underway at the BB.) For more commentary, please see McBlog. Cheers,

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Gus diZerega - 8/24/2004

I think you took my point much more harshly than I intended it. As I re-read my post, I see I could have made my point a lot better than I did.

My intended point was that

A. Conservatives are less and less libertarian

B. They create and reinforce a caricature of "liberals" that undermines the entire concept of a loyal opposition and use that to reinforce their political power. Much of that caricature ALSO attacks libertarian views.

C. Many liberals these days are in my experience friendlier than leading "conservatives" to libertarian/classical liberal values.

I just returned from a Mt. Pelerin meeting where I witnessed the failure, in my opinion, of many libertarians and free market types to see this. I encountered a lot of strong partisanship demonizing Kerry and NOT demonizing Bush. It was all over the place. Yet this is supposedly the home of classical liberalism. Bush probably doesn't have a classical l;iberal bone in his body.

I also heard a lot of very one-sided cariacatures of liberals and environmentalists - but NOT of right wingers. It was a case of the dog that didn't bark that got to me, and it was that experience that was still strongly with me when I read your post.

I was not so much saying you shouldn't write for Fox (though I can see how you read me that way), as I was making the less bossy point that libertarians should seriously re-think the pattern of alliances they have built up. If they did, writing for American Prospect might be more POLITICALLY and PHILOSOPHICALLY effective in the long run. But much depends on WHAT you write.

One can use conservative/libertarian themes to challenge the right wing domination of conservative politics in the name of freedom - and more power to you - or one can find those places where your message resonates with conservatives and simply reinforce those points, in which case I wonder the point of it other than paying bills - which certainly needs to be done. If I may venture a prediction, the classical liberal over lap with conservatism is on the wane - and you will likely get criticized ever more.

So to me it is time to explore new alliances.

That was what I was trying to get at - not to tell you to quit writing for Fox.

Jonathan Dresner - 8/23/2004

It is true that 'marrying up' is more 'normal' (i.e. socially accepted) for women, but, at least in traditional Japan, there were mechanisms by which men could do the same thing quite acceptably. Particularly interesting is the 'adopted groom' tradition, whereby a family with a female child but no male heir would 'adopt' a male heir (generally from a respectable but poor family) and marry him to their daughter. It still happens, actually: I heard a paper recently about a hairdressing-chain family (I think it was) which adopted a groom to cover the fact that the business was passing from mother to daughter....

In other words, society will find a way to assuage the fragile male ego when it is necessary to do so. We just haven't quite gotten there yet.

Wendy McElroy - 8/23/2004

I publish with any periodical or source that does not edit my material. I would publish in Pravda if it agreed to those terms. The idea of restricting my outreach to people who agree with my perspective or are "moral" -- by some definition of that word -- seems absurd to me. I believe your criticism falls into the category of denouncing me for the people with whom I associate, however, and that's a privilege I grant to no one. So I will end my response.

Gus diZerega - 8/23/2004

Conservatives in my opinion are no longer allies of libertarians in any meaningful sense. Libertarians haven't changed, conservatives have. Barry Goldwater would have an even harder time in today's Republican Party than does John McCain.

Libertarians who continue to treat conservatives as allies are simply speeding up the destruction of libertarian values because you add to their power and legitimacy while being excluded from any influence beyond fatuous rhetoiric about limited government (hah!) and the constitution (double hah!) Fox News is no aid at all to the cause of liberty - but considerab;e aid to the authoritarian right that seeks to subvert the constitution while mouthing support for it.

I have noticed that many liberals now come closer to libertarian positions than do many conservatives - for example, Brad DeLong and E. J. Dionne. I do not mean to call them libertarians - even my own credentials as a libertarian are shaky in some eyes - but on the most important issues I would argue they are a lot closer than Bush, Ashcroft, DeLay, the neoConservatives, and the rest of the repugnant stew that rules the Republican Party these days.

For more on this issue visit, especiaslly the essays under American Shadow at the top.