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Source link: http://archive.mises.org/15246/the-conservative-movement-and-the-libertarian-remnant/

The Conservative Movement and the Libertarian Remnant

January 7, 2011 by

The sudden emergence of the word “conservative” highlighted a more general unease of the counterrevolutionary forces in the United States. They were quite sure what they were against: communism, fascism, socialism, the New Deal, the Fair Deal, etc. But what did they stand for? FULL ARTICLE by Jörg Guido Hülsmann


Lee January 7, 2011 at 8:58 am

As one who’s spent most of his life among the politically homeless I find a lot to agree with in this article. Early on I realized the conservative movement was fueled more by fear of losing wealth than by any interest in freedom. But I also realized the so-called “civil rights” movement was at least as much about taking away freedom as it was gaining it; the ACLU shows it’s socialist roots in that it’s fight for freedom for one group invariably involves taking away freedom from someone else. But I have a problem with the libertarian viewpoint as well. First, as a fundamental for me, the existence of great wealth must be a threat to the freedom of many because of the power it gives to one person. Secondly, that wealth can exist only with the aid of some authority, be it government or whatever libertarians would propose; I see little difference in authority regardless of type or origin.

The author mentions over-population. To my mind that is the primary problem faced by the world and the root cause of nearly all our other problems. An idea which seems to dominate is that Malthus was wrong; we’ll always be able to produce food for whatever numbers. But it ignores the fact that food is only the most fundamental of the problems caused by excess population, and that production along with the other problems will invariably be attended to by the imposition of great authority. No political system I know of really addresses that.

For me the only answer is is what I keep harping on, the idea of each individual making his own free decision in every instance. No, it will probably never come to pass; as a realist I know that. But I also know that a huge population will never be supported under any condition remotely approaching freedom. And there’s another road to hell as well as good intentions: compromise.

J. Murray January 7, 2011 at 12:14 pm

The food isn’t the issue, I agree, the issue is that in nearly every complex animal living today, placing large numbers of them into cramped spaces tends to create a systematic and large scale insanity among the population. This explains major cities fairly well.

Dave Albin January 7, 2011 at 2:54 pm

Keep in mind that wealth concentration happens when markets are less free, not more free.

Craig January 7, 2011 at 7:46 pm

If overpopulation is, indeed, “the primary problem faced by the world and the root cause of nearly all our other problems”, then how can you possibly support “the idea of each individual making his own free decision in every instance”?

Do you see the inherent conflict? Now, I do agree with you on the latter statement. The former, in my opinion, requires some further thought.

Joe January 7, 2011 at 1:57 pm

Great article. I loved the comment, “To conserve what exists is in present-day America tantamount to preserving those laws and institutions that the New Deal and the Fair Deal have bequeathed to the nation.”
No truer words have been said. I guess we could add a few more government programs to that list. The Conservative Republicans have no answer to these programs. Everytime a liberal democrat talks of Social Security, and all the other programs, listen to the republican answer. He doesn’t say it’s a ponzi scheme or a redistribution of wealth, but we must preserve it, maybe just modify it a little.
Hayek says a lot about conservatives in his masterpiece, “The Constitution of Liberty.” Just a small sampling: “…the main point, which is the characteristic complacency of the conservative toward the action of established authority and his prime concern that this authority be not weakened rather than that its power be kept within bounds. This is difficult to reconcile with the preservation of liberty. In general, it can probably be said that the conservative does not object to coercion or arbitrary power so long as it is used for what he regards as the right purposes. He believes that if government is in the hands of decent men, it ought not be too much restricted by rigid rules.”
…”Like the Socialist, he is less concerned with the problem of how the powers of government should be limited than with that of who wields them; and, like the socialist, he regards himself as entitled to force the value he holds on other people.”

Dave Albin January 7, 2011 at 3:17 pm

Yeah, conservative and liberal today mainly apply to social policy, not economic – until recently, this was apparent in that both sides wanted only very small changes to taxes, spending, etc.

Ohhh Henry January 7, 2011 at 4:45 pm

As Rothbard said, “I’m interested in conspiracy facts not conspiracy theories.”

Buckley was a CIA agent. I’m not sure if you can legitimately call a phenomenon a “movement” when its de facto founder and longtime leader of the intellectual vanguard was a government agent following orders. The conservative “movement” is as legitimate as Stakhanovitism.

Even now I am highly suspicious of the so-called “new media” leaders of the conservative “movement” (a handful of the most influential bloggers and talk radio jocks). Their so-called opinions and leanings are far too supportive of the military-industrial complex and far too well scrubbed of any ideas resembling true libertarianism, anarchism, states’ rights and nullification (by either jury or legislature) for me to believe that they are not being carefully guided and rehearsed. “You are a great American”, LOL. Smells like totalitarian propaganda to me, but what do I know.

Matt Palmer January 7, 2011 at 6:07 pm

Case in point. From a local Tea Party website:

“The Tucson Tea Party is a venue for people who are against the over $12 trillion dollars in government bail-outs, stimulus packages, loans, entitlements, and guarantees since September 2008. We hope to provide an opportunity for those opposed to these gratuitous bailouts to find their voice, and use it. We come together to send a message to our elected officials that, if they voted for any one of these measures, they had better be prepared to collect unemployment in 2010!”

Apparently everything was just fine in August 2008.

Lee January 8, 2011 at 8:43 am


I say “free decision” as a matter of principle, but you’re right of course about that being a problem in regard to excess population. Which is exactly why when the problem can no longer be ignored it will be addressed through the imposition of authority, as in China.

Mark January 9, 2011 at 10:36 pm

I have learned to my sorrow that republican does not mean conservative, and absolutely does not mean libertarian. In my mind, neo-conservative, means a war loving liberal. I agree with another poster regarding the statism and pro-military musings of what comprise the vast majority of ‘conservative’ public commentators. We have Jason Lewis in minnesota who can’t seem to help himself from agreeing with libertarian views, but he mocks Ron Paul–and Ron Paul supporters mock him, if his whining on the subject is any indication.

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