Libertarianism Misdefined

I don’t watch cable news channels anymore. They bore me and I rarely find anything enlightening, but I do catch up on it thanks to various blog news sites. Apparently, last night John Stossel of Fox News had a debate with Ann Coulter over conservatism vs. libertarianism. The Blaze has a mashup:

Their biggest point of contention? Social Conservatism versus the Libertarian “Individuals Should Be Left Alone” approach.

The evening began pleasantly enough, the two discussing whether the U.S. should’ve invaded Iraq following the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. Coulter believes military action was justified because Saddam Hussein was “definitely looking for uranium from Niger.”

But then things became a little more heated when Stossel decided to shift gears and brought up legalizing drugs.

“Libertarians and pot,” Coulter laughed. “This is why people think libertarians are pu**ies.”

The redacted word there being “pussies.”

Stossel went all in Libertarian versus Social Conservatism: “Why can’t gays get married?”

“Well, they can,” she answered. “They have to marry a member of the opposite sex.”

The 1,400+ Libertarian students, who were there as a part of Stossel’s annual taping at the International Students for Liberty Conference in Washington, D.C., became increasingly hostile, jeering and booing Coulter along the way.

“This is another one where you’re just sucking up to liberals when there are big fights,” Coulter continued.

“No, we believe the individual should be left alone,” Stossel responded.

“Marriage is the most important institution to civilize young people. I make divorce a lot more difficult,” she said. “Liberals want to destroy the family.”

She explained that the left wants to destroy the family so that people will become totally dependent on government.

More jeers and boos.

OGramscikay, there’s a lot right and wrong in all this on both sides. Indeed, liberals do want to destroy the family. This is known as the Gramsci Effect:

Antonio Gramsci asserted that the survival of a free market society was based on “cultural hegemony,” and that the communist vanguard had first of all to subvert that cultural hegemony in order to seize power. […] The hard left understands that it must undermine, subvert, and liquidate traditional culture in order to replace all of the multitudinous relationships which form the dense network of family and community life with a univocal culture in which every nexus of human contact is mediated by the state.

However, despite the fact that homosexuals are pawns in this evil game, few of them are aware they play such a role and just want to be “married” and enjoy their lives like anyone else. What could be wrong with that?

Well, something, but not for the reasons that Stossel and his big-L Libertarians advocate. A very astute commenter (grimjack3791) on The Blaze article nails its:

Hey Libertarians: “I want the government to legalize gay marriage” = “I recognize that only the government has the authority to recognize my love and commitment for another individual and I recognize that only government say-so makes my commitment official.” Pretty short-sighted for the party of laissez faire, no?

The correct stance on gay marriage, or any marriage, is to dispense with government marriage licensing entirely.

First paragraph, gold. The second needs a little analysis. Back in a previous life, when I was living in the Twin Cities of Minnesota, I attended a dinner party with several law students, most of them socialists (though they prefered the tag “liberals”) and one a libertarian much as myself. The subject of the St. Patrick’s Day Parade in St. Paul was broached and many lamented the fact that the Mayor of St. Paul would not recognize the Gay groups that were marching in the parade. They were allowed to march, you see, but the Mayor was against it and as such wouldn’t “recognize” their participation. My response was like a hand-grenade dropped into the tray of steamed asparagus: “So what?”

“So what?! It’s terrible that he won’t recognize them!”

“Why does that matter? Does that mean the gays can’t be gay? That we’re not actually seeing them in the parade? They’re invisible? Why does their happiness depend on the opinion of some government official?”

“THANK YOU!” said the other libertarian.

I don’t remember much after that, but I believe the subject petered out as most subjects do when liberals lose the argument.

As to the issue of gay marriage. I totally understand it from an economic level. If, for example, two men are partners in life and want to have the economic benefits that a married heterosexual couple have, I get that and I say they should have it. Added to that, you can run across a case where you have a same sex couple together for decades; one of them dies and his family, who had cut him from their life, is now able to seize his assets leaving the partner with nothing. That’s crap, and there should be recourse.

However, I’m less sympathetic with the argument that gays should be “married” and that a civil-union in the eyes of the law isn’t enough. This says to me that you aren’t entirely happy being gay and you want to be just like the heterosexuals. If you can’t get married in a church, then maybe you need to start your own church. Yes, that’s simplistic, but it all comes down to not feeling whole unless you’re recognized by people who don’t like you. That’s nonsense. That’s a “you” problem and something you have to get past if you want to live a fulfilling life. And it’s not just gays. Every walk of life falls into this trap, from teenagers and their popularity cliques to ethic minorities in foreign lands.

As for libertarianism…I have no patience for so-called “libertarians” who are without pragmatism. The big-L Libertarians don’t want us involved in any foreign entanglements: no army bases, no wars, no buts, no coconuts. It’s a very immature argument to say that foreign policy should only be reactive and that domestically we should play by the statists’ rules.

I don’t claim to have all the answers, but I can say that neither do Stossel or Coulter.



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