Friday, March 11, 2011

Lew Rockwell and his "problem with American conservatism"

The problem with American conservatism is that it hates the left more than the state, loves the past more than liberty, feels a greater attachment to nationalism than to the idea of self-determination, believes brute force is the answer to all social problems, and thinks it is better to impose truth rather than risk losing one soul to heresy. It has never understood the idea of freedom as a self-ordering principle of society. It has never seen the state as the enemy of what conservatives purport to favor. It has always looked to presidential power as the saving grace of what is right and true about America.
                                 -- Lew Rockwell

Dude, Rockwell what is your problem man?

Lew Rockwell is a contemporary figure and I often see the name as a symbol of a caricature of a right-leaning individual with non-viable political beliefs and a foreign policy bordering on the naive. also featured that poor crazed antiwar woman that bought the property adjoining President Bush's Crawford Ranch.

Lew Rockwell is also President of the Ludwig von Mises Institute and I love them.

That is not my point.

The biggest difference between Conservatism and Libertarianism is that I, as a Conservative believe deep down that liberty and freedom are necessary in large doses for the prosperity of individuals and therefore society.  I also believe that liberty is like a tool or even a necessary element and is certainly such that can be mis-used or abused for the benefit of one conscious, deliberate individual at the expense of one or many others.  It is not a "self-ordering principle of society" and principles themselves are not self-ordering anymore than any other idea or abstract concept.  Concepts cannot and do not order themselves.

I also do not see the point in holding antipathy towards "the state" given how the state is an inevitable counterpoint to human nature when religion or spiritual Christian ethos are not in play.  If you desire the cessation of theft of property you define property as a sacrosanct element in your society, as something respectively and formally beholden to a specific set individual and formally define the illicit removal of such as a bad thing in the eyes of the governing authority.  In order to have laws there must be an authority which has approved formal agency to enforce those laws.  As unfortunate as it is that the state  is necessitous in a world full of sinners we need laws and a government.  Determining the role of government and hating the government is counterproductive and counterintuitive.

Working to counter those that would misuse something that by its very nature collects and accrues power is a better use of time and energy than hating the subject of debate.

Mind you some of what Mr Rockwell stated above may simply be hyperbole and some might be out of context.  Much of it seems as a misrepresentation of Conservative philosophy if not mislabeled right-leaning activists although I quetion how much of the misrepresentation is knowing and what is incidental.

Mind you: as I consider myself a Conservative and I know many of my beliefs are libertarian I tend to project my own beliefs into the realm of what I consider "Conservative" ought to be.  What Lew Rockwell considers the state of Conservatism might be closer to reality and my view may be idealism; I doubt it though.  Certainly I doubt Conservatives see "presidential power" and "nationalism" in the same light as Lew Rockwell suggests.

Indeed I would think a reverence for the power of the office is antithetical to Conservatism.

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