With their individual fetishism, libertarians have a difficult time accepting the idea of collective action. They also can”t process how people might reject the misunderstood Ben Franklin dictum of “Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.”
Man has a proclivity for safety, not liberty. Human history is littered with war after war, conflict after conflict. Whatever liberty we eke out of our constant warring state is always in danger of being lost. As philosopher John Gray noted, “To think of humans as freedom-loving, you must be ready to view nearly all of history as a mistake.”
It pains me to say it, but the neocons at the National Review are right: There never was a libertarian moment. America’s youth are enamored by a socialist senator. The threat of Islamic terrorism is not going away. Emerging industries are dropping their Henry Rearden-like independence and are openly collaborating with governments.
Most important, after years of dissolution, the feeling of belonging seems to be making a comeback. It’s great being an empowered individual, but autonomy must be tempered with a devotion to a larger body, whether it be family, town, or country. Libertarianism is predicated upon the idea that everyone can exist within their own sphere. It doesn”t acknowledge the bonds we have that turn life into more than just a dog-eat-dog struggle.
So, no, there is no libertarian moment, and there never was. Politics is about the provision of public goods, and the goods most on the mind of Republican voters are jobs, security, and immigration control. Libertarians lack the imagination needed to combat the feeling of alienation within one’s own country. Rugged individualism is not a solution to blue-collar Joe losing his job to a Hispanic illegal earning a quarter of his wage.
Until libertarians accept that 90% of the country live on a different intellectual plane than them, the philosophy will remain only of interest to polyamorous nitwits arguing on Reddit. And given the trend of libertarians teaming up with the culturally Marxist left, we”re probably better off if it stays that way.
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