Leaving the party
Posted by aogFriday, 07 November 2003 at 00:09 TrackBack Ping URL

A post and comment by Paul Jaminet has made me realize that I do, in fact, know how quite a lot of former members of the Democratic Party feel these days.

I’ve been a libertarian since I was in junior high (sadly for me, I never enjoyed a dalliance with collectivism). I did dabble a bit in Anarchism, but by the time I was in college I had become a minarchist. Over the decades, however, I’ve come to see liberty as less of an end and more of a means. The real end is a self-ordered society, which provides the best ground for civic virtue. Civic virtue in turns yields civil peace, prosperity and the greatest scope for the pursuit of happiness. I’ll quote the same post Jaminet quoted because it expresses much of what I believe so well:

The point I think Justice Brow was trying to make here is that the nanny state is a poor substitute, at best, for the virtue inculcating power of faith and voluntary community. We may fear the faceless bureaucrat, but he does not inspire us to virtue. Conduct that rises above the lowest common moral denominator thus cannot be created by state action. But while the state cannot make its citizens virtuous, it can destroy the intermediary institutions that do inculcate virtue: “Communities can be destroyed from without; but they cannot be created from without; they must be built from within.” Richard A. Epstein, Simple Rules for a Complex World 324 (1995).

Conservatives therefore argue that the rich set of mediating institutions famously praised by Tocqueville is caught, like the Romans at Cannae, between the nanny state on one side and judicial hijacking of the state’s monopoly on the use of coercive force to advance a hyper-legalistic cult of the autonomous individual on the other. We therefore reject both prongs of modern liberalism in favor of achieving communitarian goals through private ordering. Our pessimism about human nature thus does not lead us to statism, but to promoting intermediating institutions that raise up citizens who can regulate themselves from within according to a shared language of good and evil, to paraphrase George Weigel.

Jaminet later comments that he, like me, is a minarchist but has left the Libertarian Party because he thought it had too many people hostile to virtue and religion. Another commentor said that he agreed with the platform but the party itself was a “kook-magnet”. I have known that for a while and learned to live with it. But, like many former Democratic Party members, I’ve drifted away primarily because of the Caliphate War. It’s one thing to be hostile or kooky but I saw too much reality dysfunction to really continue to call myself a member of the party. It’s the inability to see that, for all of the problems with this country, we’d really be in the weeds without it. I can’t imagine even hestitating in choosing between an Orrin Judd theocracy and a Wahhabi one.

One of the Liberatarians I admired, Jacob Hornberger went completely loopy. This is a guy who has been to Cuba multiple times and never drank the kool aid. He never lost sight of what Castro was really about. Yet, when he seemed competely unable to grasp the true intent of the Caliphascists, as if they, unlike the Communists, were only attacking us because of our action. Yet the fundamental fact is that Caliphascism, just like Communism, is a totalizing ideology that simply cannot long co-exist with an outside world that exceeds it in strength or prosperity. I still support the organization because of its good work in other areas, but the fire has gone out.

I think that I view this kind of thing with the same sick fascination that a Democratic Party member watches the debates among the current candidates and thinks “how has something I so admired come to this?”.