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Sunday, September 6, 2015


  Libertarians and Conservatives - Natural Allies, Natural Rivals

Published in 2015 by Crown Forum

Charles C. W. Cooke is a writer for National Review and as such he has been in the center of a storm as the political Right works through a new generation of thought on a variety of issues. In some issues, the political Right is united, such as on the concept of Limited Government and keeping taxes as low as possible.
Ron Paul

Generally speaking, Libertarians bond more readily with the Right than the Left, which is why Ron Paul identified as a Libertarian for years yet caucused with the Republicans in the Congress and ran for president as a Republican. The dislike of the Nanny State on many issues pushes them together as temporary allies on many issues.

But, on other issues such as the War on Drugs and Gay Marriage the Right is split and split deeply. Cooke is attempting to nudge the Republicans a little more to the Libertarian point of view on things so that these temporary alliances between the Libertarians and Conservatives can become more permanent.

This can be difficult, though. The Libertarians tend to view traditional Conservative views as hypocritical - too willing to promote some intrusive acts by the government while decrying an intrusive government. Conservatives tend to view the Libertarian position as naive and too willing to walk away from any sort of compromise because compromise is in and of itself unacceptable. Or, as Cooke puts it on page 32, "...convinced that logic-on-paper can answer all the important questions about the human experience, dismissive of history and cultural norms, possessed of a purifying instinct, and all to ready to pull down institutions that they fail to recognize are vital to the integrity of the society in which they operate."

So, the two sides clash "...when the question is 'What should we do' rather than 'what should we oppose?' " (p.33)

So, that is the crux of the book. The two sides have deep divisions but large areas of agreement about where government should not act. It is a well-written, quick read. I come at things from the Conservative with Libertarian leanings camp (like Cooke) so I readily see what he is advocating. My Libertarian relatives are not likely to compromise on any issues, even in the name of making real advances on issues that they hold dear. For them, it is an all-or-nothing proposition (which I get - they hold all of their ideals dearly) but that just is not the way that politics works. Play the game and move towards what you really want. Don't play the game and get none of what you really want but stay ideologically pure.

At least this can be a place to start the discussion.

I rate this book 4 stars out of 5.

This book can be found on Amazon here: 
The Conservatarian Manifesto: Libertarians, Conservatives, and the Fight for the Right's Future

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