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Conservatism vs Libertarianism

Sunday, August 26, 2007 2 comments

The following was posted by my friend Kyle on his blog Spartan Spectator. I found it interesting because I have attended some Libertarian events recently and found myself disagreeing with them on most issues. I am not sure if I agree 100%, but he did bring up some interesting points. One in particular is something I noticed when I visited the Libertarian website. It is their view on religion. Before I say too much I will let you read it and post your own opinions.

"Many Republicans argue that libertarians and conservatives should join forces so that they can defeat the collectivist liberals of the Democratic Party. This should be highly discouraged; libertarianism is contradictory to conservatism.

A fallacy that is believed by people on both the Left and the Right is that the political spectrum is divided by totalitarianism on the Left (communists, Nazis, collectivists, socialists, and statists) and liberty on the Right. This is not the case. I firmly believe that on one end of the political spectrum is the philosophy of believing in a moral order established by experience, and on the other side is the belief that the nature of humans is devoted to work. While conservatives believe in traditionalism and an ordered society based on history, libertarians and Marxists believe in atheistic materialism. In this example, libertarians have more in common with Marxists than they do with conservatives.

Conservatives believe that order is needed in society. If liberty and justice are permitted to exist in a country, order must be maintained. As economist Wilhelm Röpke argued, liberty is only permissible within the constraints of societal order. While libertarians believe in freedom (liberty without constraints, which is referred to as anarchy), conservatives believe in true freedom (liberty within societal constraints). Both Marxists and libertarian ideologies are similar in that they both share a hatred of true freedom.

Conservatives understand that societal order is needed to achieve maximum liberty. A common culture, common history, common language, understanding of right verses wrong (which is not relative, it is absolute, but in today’s world, cultures are dissimilar, because they have different taboos) and sense of community are needed to forge society. Libertarians have distaste for society; they feel that societal limits absolute liberty. Instead of trying to preserve society, libertarians seek to destroy it by advocating for the elimination of community. To the libertarian, the individual is supreme; Man should be worshipped instead of God. Again, materialism is at the root of this. Libertarians and Marxists are similar in this example as well.

Libertarians are ideologues who have set out to create Utopia on earth (a different form of Utopia than what the Marxists advocate for, but Utopia nevertheless) while conservatives understand that all human beings are imperfect and that Utopia is impossible.

Libertarians hate government, because they feel that government restrains their liberties; conservatives want limited government, because they understand that liberties need to be restrained. It has been said that if all men were angles that government would not be needed. That is untrue, because even angles would need laws to maintain societal order (how would one drive to a store of there were no stoplights maintained by the government to prevent car accidents?). In order for true freedom to exist, societal constraints are needed.

A very good reason as to why libertarianism is a failed doctrine is because it cannot work, because it does not take into account human nature. Humans try to best one another; societal order is needed to prevent this vulgar Machiavellianism from destroying civilization (and true freedom).

Libertarians do not understand the difference between liberty and rights. A liberty is when one is granted permission to do something; a right is when one does not need permission to do something. For example, I have a right to my property. I do not need to ask permission to walk across it. If I wanted to walk across my neighbor’s lawn, I would need to ask permission to do so. Because libertarians believe that they have a right to liberty, they do not understand how this would compromise society as we know it.

Something the atheistic libertarians should reflect upon is that if God does not exist, then God-given rights do not exist. If that is the case, then rights were created by Man and therefore, can be taken away by Man. Marxists and Libertarians both ignore God’s Law, which is exactly what rights are and what rights are not. Libertarians, trying to remove God from society, tend to refer to God’s Law as “natural law,” but the libertarians neglect to explain what nature exactly is or how it came into existence. The libertarian who has blind devotion to atheism is not unlike the Marxist who has blind devotion to the state.

Instead of worshipping the state like Marxists, libertarians worship Man and Ayn Rand. Instead of joining forces with libertarians to oppose the collectivist state, conservatives should distance themselves from them. Libertarians are no more conservative than Marxists."

2 comments: to “ Conservatism vs Libertarianism so far...

  • Craig J. Bolton August 28, 2007 at 11:12 AM

    Your friend is basically right [in believing that libertarianism is fundamentally different from conservatism] but for the wrong reasons.

    Libertarianism is the most recent manifestation of the philosophic tradition that began with the radical Enlightenment in 16th Century Holland, spread to 17th Century Britian, where it became known as classical Whiggism or classical liberalism and then created the American Revolution in the 18th Century. Regardless of their family differences, most all libertarians reject doctrines like the divine right of kings, the appointment of rulers by G_d, and the possibility of using government as a moral teacher. Government is force. Force is only useful and permissible to put down prior illegitimate force, not to "make men good."

    Conservatism asserts just the opposite - that the state is a holy agency and those who oppose it are evil. The inquisition was the golden moment of conservatism.

  • Anonymous August 28, 2007 at 11:42 PM

    "while conservatives understand that all human beings are imperfect and that Utopia is impossible"

    What a negative view of mankind, and one that is devoid of the rebirth that comes from believing in Jesus. Given the description of this post, I certainly could not describe myself as a conservative because it denies the working of the Spirit right here in this creation.

    If you believe in Jesus and what he came for, I think it would be difficult to truly belong to any of these "labels." Being a Christian is being a new creation, and that new creation transcends these human limits and frailties.

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