March 07, 2009

Re: Front-Porch Socialism

Though I do not find myself in total disagreement with Richard’s latest piece dealing with Rod Dreher and the Front Porch Republic weblog, as this sites resident decentralist libertarian, I do feel the need to say a few things in defense of the FPR project. 

For starters, I am a firm believer that the size of our institutions was a major factor in the current financial crisis.  While I absolutely agree that the Austrian Theory of The Business Cycle explains the specific dynamics of the crash, the very forces that promote fractional reserve banking also promote the mentality that gives us bigness at the expense of all else.  The need to get back to “Human Scale” arrangements is something I regard as very real and it does not worry me in the least.  If anything I believe it is one of the only courses of action that can stem the tide of state socialism that is cresting over Washington as we speak.

Furthermore, I do not see our enemy as socialism per se.  Our enemy is the State.  Though this may seem to be a rather insignificant distinction to make, socialism takes on many forms and has many faces.  As Bill Kauffman, Dan Flynn and others have noted, the socialism of places like Brook Farm is drastically different from the socialism of the Soviet Union.  Having never identified myself as a socialist I see little reason to defend its utopian practioners – but I also see little reason to regard their small-town socialism as something to be feared. 

Unlike many libertarians, I am not at all uncomfortable with critiques of technology.  As an admirer of Russell Kirk and Richard Weaver, I find it impossible to separate the current cult of consumption from the rapid technological “progress” that has come to dominate post-WWII American life.  “Vaguely environmentalist” or not, an unquestioned faith in technological advancement has always seemed wildly “unconservative” to me.  Perhaps more to the point, a serious discussion about the role of technology in American life is not something that strikes me as beyond the pale.  In fact it strikes me as just the sort of debate that the “alternative Right” ought to be engaging in every chance it gets. 

As a libertarian (of sorts), I have long believed that decentralism is the gateway drug to free market economics and not vice versa.  Convincing people that a politics of “human scale” is in their interests is a lot easier than trying to convert people by extolling the virtues of outsourcing.  For this reason any upstart site willing to promote the principles of government downsizing is something well worth getting behind.  Here’s hoping that on this front, the Front Porch gang doesn’t let us down. 



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