EconLog | Arnold Kling | Morning Libertarian RantSub in "statists" or "dirigists" for "socialists" in the following and you have my reply to Gerson.
But what should the public be afraid of? The Post's conservative columnist, Michael Gerson, has the answer.
the ideology of libertarianism is itself a scandal. It involves not only a retreat from Obamaism but a retreat from the most basic social commitments to the weak, the elderly and the disadvantaged, along with a withdrawal from American global commitments."
Socialism, like the ancient ideas from which it springs, confuses the distinction between government and society. As a result of this, every time we object to a thing being done by government, the socialists conclude that we object to its being done at all. We disapprove of state education. Then the socialists say that we are opposed to any education. We object to a state religion. Then the socialists say that we want no religion at all. We object to a state-enforced equality. Then they say that we are against equality. And so on, and so on. It is as if the socialists were to accuse us of not wanting persons to eat because we do not want the state to raise grain."Besides that, I want to note specifically how Gerson threw "elderly" into the mix there. "Elderly" is not a category of people I have a commitment to. If people happen to be elderly and weak, or elderly and disadvantaged, then we help them because they are weak or disadvantaged. Elderly by itself is neither necessary nor sufficient for us to owe anyone anything.
— Frederic Bastiat, "The Law"
This is sloppy thinking at best. More likely it's duplicitous posturing. "Hey you Post readers (who are largely elderly) don't trust those libertarians, they hate you."
Libertarianism has a rigorous ideological coldness at its core. Voters are alienated when that core is exposed.Better a rigorous ethos than the wishy-washy opportunism and grab bag of positions that masquerades as coherent ideology of the contemporary conservative or liberal.
If there is a coldness at the core of libertarianism it is the coldness of responsibility. People should be able to do as they want but accept the consequences, for there is no freedom nor power without responsibility. Libertarianism preaches that the state is the state. It is not your mommy nor your daddy, your guidance counselor nor your life coach, your pastor nor your psychiatrist, your savior nor your conscience. Many find that to be a cold message. But it is an honest one.