The Free Keene Website,
which is part of the New Hampshire “Free State Project” movement, addresses the issue that there is an apparent correlation between libertarianism and conservatism, at least in terms of voting patterns, in New Hampshire.
One of my pet projects is to debunk any relation between libertarianism and conservatism. There is no relation; they are diametrically opposed. Things that are actually diametrically opposed but are nonetheless presented as being in relative harmony are a problem. This problem serves as the foundation for “expropriation,” which is the most efficient method to permanently kill off a movement–for good.
In this previous post, I demonstrated that conservatism and libertarianism share no bridge regarding the “Free Market.” Despite the lip service, conservatism nonetheless places protectionism as the necessary foundation for a “free Market.” This position, of course, destroys the actual meaning of a “free market,” and ends up ensuring that the totality of debate revolves around the strawman of legitimizing protectionism.
If the distinction over the “free market” seems subtle, perhaps introducing the “wedge issue” of “American Exceptionalism” may clarify things. The libertarian critique against the State, in large part, reduces to the institutional problem of an enforcement entity that largely exempts itself from the thing(s) it is supposedly enforcing. Libertarianism rejects any claim of exceptionalism by the State in this regard. Conservatism, however, religiously endorses “American Exceptionalism,” which, of course, is an endorsement that the American State is exempt from this enforcement problem. But as is typical, claims of exemption are always undergirded by the necessity of protectionism to enforce the exemption. This, of course, leads to the moral foundation of plunder. As Bastiat put it:
“When plunder becomes a way of life for a group of men living together in society, they create for themselves in the course of time a legal system that authorizes it and a moral code that glorifies it.”
It simply never ceases to amaze me the extent “libertarians” refuse to give up the “conservative ghost.” The lead essay for this month’s Cato Unbound, “Liberty and Science,” by Michael Shermer, for example, essentially adopts the conservative position that moral foundations are an evolutionary dynamic between conservative “constrained” vs. liberal “unconstrained.” This leads Shermer to declare that libertarian politics is the evolutionary midpoint between the two, and that libertarianism is the long run evolutionary equilibrium of the (liberal) State.
Shermer’s position suffers from an obvious empirical problem. How does Shermer square the emergence of a secret police from the so-called “realistic vision” evolutionary framework? We understand why a secret police emerges from a “blank slate, unconstrained” moral intuition foundation; but this secret police also appears to be an evolutionary emergent product of the “realistic vision,” the one that supposedly imposes “libertarian constraints.” What exactly are the important constraints, here? This leads to the more general observation that there doesn’t appear to be much of any constraint on the growth of the State.
Shermer’s empirical problem may be rooted in a conceptual problem regarding moral foundations. For example, the research of Jonathan Haidt provides a much different model of moral foundations than Shermer’s (conservative constraint) vs (liberal constraint) dualism. Haidt identifies five moral foundations:
“Conservatives” recognized all five foundations as a part of the moral intuition while while liberals only recognized the first two. Haidt’s study was originally only intended to study the conservative vs duality until it accidently discovered a third variety, one that essentially was a mutation of the liberal foundations. This one only recognized the first two foundations as well but strictly subjugated the first to the second. Essentially, it was a “morals by contract” foundation. Haidt identified this as the “libertarian foundation.”
So, in the Haidt model, libertarianism clearly is not an evolutionary midpoint of conservative vs liberal moral foundations. It is, instead, a liberal mutation.