Libertarianism mugged by reality

A while ago I opined on my political ideology: 

“In a minimal statement? I believe in maximum liberty through minimal coercion. Individuals should be free to do what they want as long as they do not harm anyone else… That said, I believe in several important caveats…”

One thing I did not touch upon at the time was a good name for this set of beliefs. I could call myself a conservative but that is too tainted by Trumpism. Libertarianism is too tainted by the ideologically pure members of the camp. I like fusionist but no one knows what that is. Same for classical liberalism. Neoliberalism could work but I don’t view it as anything more than progressivism hijacking markets to achieve its goals. None of them work.

But what about libertarianism mugged by reality? It’s certainly original.

My original article starts by outlining how people deserve liberty and some ways it should apply. A presumption of liberty, if you will. Then I outlined the caveats to that presumption. People should be free and if you are going to limit that freedom you better have an important and specific reason with a narrowly tailored solution. These exceptions exist because traditional libertarian theory isn’t the solution to every political problem and we can’t wish political realities away. What if that is libertarianism mugged by reality? 

Take Newton’s Universal Law of Gravity. Two objects are pulled together with a force proportional to the mass of one, times the mass of the other, divided by the square of the distance between them. That law works really well but it isn’t actually universal. When gravity is really strong it doesn’t work and there is a lot of uncertainty for small objects. Libertarianism is something like that. It works really well for most things but events like a global pandemic or climate change seem to need more planned solutions. 

There are also political realities. Welfare isn’t going to go anywhere. Anti-discrimination law isn’t going anywhere. The police or American military supremacy isn’t going anywhere. The question isn’t if we should have them but how to have them in a way that maximizes liberty. Former President Dwight Eisenhower described this dilemma well

“Now it is true that I believe this country is following a dangerous trend when it permits too great a degree of centralization of governmental functions. I oppose this–in some instances the fight is a rather desperate one. But to attain any success it is quite clear that the Federal government cannot avoid or escape responsibilities which the mass of the people firmly believe should be undertaken by it. The political processes of our country are such that if a rule of reason is not applied in this effort, we will lose everything–even to a possible and drastic change in the Constitution. This is what I mean by my constant insistence upon “moderation” in government.”

Are you a libertarian mugged by reality? 

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