My Response to Tom Wilson on Libertarians in Standpoint
November 1, 2012 Leave a comment
Last month I wrote a letter to Standpoint magazine in response to this article on the libertarian movement. It was printed (slightly edited) in this month’s issue. What I wrote appears below.
Tom Wilson writes that the libertarian movement’s young adherents embrace the notion that every man is an island and fail to recognize the importance of virtue. I certainly would not be part of such a movement if this were true.
As libertarians, we agree with Lord Acton that “liberty is the highest political end”. However, it is not necessarily the highest or only end on every individual’s ranking of values. We do not offer a way of life (the Objectivist movement being an exception).
As a religious 23-year old libertarian, I am a minority within a minority. Yet in the absence of a state I believe we will most likely fall back on our communities and religious organisations to make up for the functions it once monopolized, or tried to monopolize. This gives libertarianism the most conservative of end results. Its why conservative sociologist Robert Nisbet, author of The Quest for Community, found a devoted audience among libertarians as well as neoconservatives in the pages of that sorely-missed journal, The Public Interest.
We recognize that not everybody will use the greater freedom we propose wisely. However, if some aspect of the welfare state has improved public morality and individual responsibility, I’d certainly like to hear about it.