April 04, 2008
In the ongoing debate over the merits of Reason, I have not really said anything, but I should say a few things. The tendency that Justin and Thomas Woods critique so well is a habit that has negatively affected conservatism and libertarianism alike, which is the precious desire to demonstrate conformity with the norms of “respectable” opinion at the expense of far more important principles. This tendency leads people to shun natural allies, whose main error is usually refusing to bow before certain sensitive pieties of dubious value, and to adopt the pose that they hold views that are even more politically correct than than the most zealous speech code enforcer. They want to inoculate themselves against the inevitable charges of prejudice, but in so doing they reinforce the power of their opponents and guarantee their own marginalization. The tendency encourages people to try to curry favor with those who regard their core principles to be vile and unacceptable, as if the “respectability” conferred by such people were worth anything, and one of the ways that they make this attempt is by distancing themselves in one way or another from their less “acceptable” associates. For the equivalent of a pat on the head, some seem willing to throw one of the greatest champions under the proverbial bus. Watching many Beltway libertarians drop Ron Paul’s campaign faster than a hot stone after Kirchick’s attack piece was disgusting to me, but more than that it was embarrassing for them. As I wrote elsewhere:
Watching certain libertarians pathetically pursue mainstream “respectability” in the wake of the newsletters business with the Paul campaign was enough to make me ill. These are the sorts of people who will abandon their most popular spokesman in over a generation so that they can retain “credibility” in the eyes of people who wish them dead.
At the same time, I sympathize with the arguments that Dan and Tim Carney are making when they insist that we appreciate Reason for what it is and for the mix of views that it brings. I don’t think anyone will mistake me for a friend of Reason or its style of libertarianism, but I think that one of the things that keeps the dissident right intellectually active and interesting is the variety that it permits and encourages among its members. I sincerely wish that none of its members made absurd Russophobic arguments, for example, but I do not want to throw out the good with the bad.