Vinod's Blog
Random musings from a libertarian, tech geek...
Wednesday, March 16, 2005 - 01:03 PM Permanent link for I'm an impure Libertarian
I'm an impure Libertarian

Daniel Drezner pointed out this Libertarian Purity test.   I scored 40 out of a possible 160 points -

31-50 points: Your libertarian credentials are obvious. Doubtlessly you will become more extreme as time goes on.

I guess there's a chance I'll get more extreme but the general trendline has been the opposite direction over the years.   I still readily identify as libertarian at the core but am becoming more and more cognizant of the central role of Culture and a strong model of Human Nature a priori to government -- both elements tend to be classically "conservative" positions.  Libertarianism, in this light, becomes a sort of "luxury" afforded to a society of individuals that know how to resolve their difference nonviolently, are productive, respectful of each other & their property, and who escalate interpersonal issues into the realm of governance as a last resort.  Like many "conservatives", I draw a pretty direct line from the realm of Miss Manners into the political. 

In the opposite direction, however, I also recognize the political significance of things like disenfranchisement, political anonymity, and Respect -- all somewhat "liberal" issues although of late usurped by the infamous NeoCons.   For example, Adam Smith - not really a flaming liberal by any stretch of the imagination - once said that the real tragedy of Poverty wasn't the material but rather the the loss of Manhood and Dignity it promulgates.   The latter issue isn't merely financial or simple welfare but can become and often is political.  The fabled peasant revolts of history often had as much to do with peasant status as with bread.

Now this doesn't mean I agree with most Liberals entirely about what / how much to do about it - I think that tomes like Barbara Ehrenreich's Nickel & Dimed argument are blown quite a bit out of proportion in Modern America, for ex.  BUT I do agree with the general vector that Society doesn't really have much choice but to actively use tax & spend to mitigate the formation of an underclass.  I certainly wouldn't carelessly dismantle safety net programs like welfare.  I readily agree with many of the tenets of Rawlsian Distributed Justice but when push comes to shove, I tend to value Freedom over Equality quite a bit more.

A while back, I posted a blurb titled Am I Libertarian and most arguments still hold true today.   Like Drezner, I'm entirely comfortable answering "No" to questions like "should the state be disarmed" / "should law be privatized" and so on.   So, if you must pigeonhole me, I'm Libertarian - but of the Cato sort rather than the Anarcho-Capitalist type.   It's a pain, I know - Anarcho-Capitalism is far easier to take down.

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