December 3, 2012

Good Stuff

Insty links to a fascinating piece today by Professor Paul Rahe. It's longer and deeper than a typical blog post or opinion column, but it contains food for thought for ThreeSourcers of all stripes and spots.

I debase it by excerpting, but the ThreeSources Style Guide is pretty strict:

Lest I bore you and fail to provoke sound and fury, let me preface my remarks by saying two things: that libertarians should be social conservatives and vice-versa.

My argument with regard to social conservatives is implicit in the criticism that I addressed to the Catholic hierarchy in a series of posts in and after February, 2012, the first and fiercest of which can be found here. It comes down to this: In embracing the administrative entitlements state, as they have, Catholic churchmen and their Protestant counterparts have lent aid and comfort to those who believe that we can establish heaven right here on earth and they have led their flocks to mistake the Machiavellian maneuver of forcefully taking from one citizen to support another for a fulfillment of the Christian duty of charity. Moreover, their desire to sustain the political alliance devoted to expanding the welfare state caused them to knowingly downplay the enormity of murdering 50 million unborn children, and now their erstwhile allies are rewarding them for their moral obtuseness over many years by making them complicit with mass murder. In sum, they made a pact with the devil, and payment is now due. The proper setting for the practice of Christian charity is a free-market society. The rise of the welfare state and the decline of Christianity go hand in hand. To see this, one need only go to church in Europe.

But why should libertarians be social conservatives? Why shouldn't they embrace libertinism in the manner of the folks at Reason?
Why, then, you may ask -- if you even remember the question I posed some paragraphs back -- should libertarians be social conservatives? The answer is simple. Single mothers and their offspring are bound for the most part to become wards of the state. For a man and a woman who are married to rear offspring is a chore. It may be fulfilling, but it is demanding and hard. It requires sacrifice and discipline. For a single person to do so and to do it well requires a species of heroism. For a single person to do so at all requires help -- and that is where we are. For we now take it for granted that we are to pay for the mistakes that the single mother (and her sexual partner) made. We now, in fact, presume that she is entitled to our help -- and we now have a political party in power built on that premise. We are to pay for her groceries through WIC (Women, Infants, Children), for her medical care through Medicaid, for the contraceptives that she does not have the discipline to use properly and for the morning-after pill should she slip up and need an abortion. Her right to be promiscuous trumps our right to the fruits of our own labor.

What I would say to libertarians is this: Liberty requires a responsible citizenry, and the sexual revolution (very much like the drug culture, which was and is its Doppelgänger) promotes irresponsibility of every kind. It promotes dependence, and it fosters an ethos in which those who exercise the virtues fostered by the market are punished for doing so and in which those who live for present pleasure are rewarded.

He links to some video excerpts from his interview and -- again -- the column offers much more than ThreeSources internecine fodder.

Lastly, I am going to spike the football and digress. I'm struck by the paucity (that's being generous) of anything half this serious from my friends on the left. Yes I receive (and forward and provide) inane stuff from the right -- they do not have a monopoly on the puerile. But, when I see something remotely serious advocating progressive policies, it usually comes from a liberty loving friend (Sugarchuck reads The Nation so I don't have to). My FB friends put up Jon Stewart clips or a Thomas Friedman column. Maybe it is my cross-section.

Hat-tip: Instapundit for the intelligent Rahe piece; the rant at the end is mine.

Philosophy Posted by John Kranz at December 3, 2012 2:09 PM

This looks like a serious writing and I do appreciate Rahe. It deserves a serious analysis but I'll give an off-the-cuff comment now just the same.

Rahe's premise in saying "Liberty requires a responsible citizenry" is that if an element of the citizenry is irresponsible some other element will step in to save them from their anti-survival behavior. But what if those who didn't preserve themselves were allowed to perish?

I'm not suggesting this as public policy (yet) but as a thought experiment.

Posted by: johngalt at December 3, 2012 3:47 PM

My snappy comeback was in a similar vein. I -- and a bunch of those wacky libertines at Reason -- would rather address the interstice of the behavior and the need it creates. If you can support your own kid, I'm pretty squeamish telling you you have to have a marriage license.

By numbers, Rahe (and Gov. Huckabee and Senator Santorum) is right. But I want to be allowed to do things that are statistically suspect. Perhaps there is a cultural role in Toquevillian values but I cannot accept a government one.

Posted by: jk at December 3, 2012 4:09 PM | What do you think? [2]