While I don’t wish to reproduce on this blog the entirety of Frederic Bastiat’s “The Law”, I believe the author should have an opportunity to rebut comments made on my previous quote of him regarding the definition of socialism.
I’m often challenged in political arguments with progressives, particularly on Twitter, to define socialism. My opponents claim that I’m abusing the term. I’m inclined to see such a claim as an example of conversational terrorism, but it happens often enough and I care enough about productive dialog that I’ve decided to relent and offer a definition. I might not have done so entirely to my satisfaction had I not been listening to an audiobook version of Frederic Bastiat’s “The Law” this morning. I offer here his laudably simple and clear definition.
“In essentials, unity; in doubtful matters, liberty; in all things, charity.” – attributed to various Christian authors
Walter Block, in “Rothbard and Big Tent Libertarianism“, presents twenty issues for which there is no single, uniform libertarian position. He doesn’t address progressive hot button topics, but the theme is still consistent with my plea.
I have noticed that most people I encounter who are sympathetic to libertarian ideals or become libertarians of some stripe (minarchist, anarchist, whatever) would identify themselves as conservatives. However, progressives (i.e., those who would identify themselves as liberals) seem more often to be quite hostile to libertarianism. Many will gladly accept the label of “civil libertarian”, but few would wish to lose the modifier. Conversely, there seem these days to be a number of conservative wannabe libertarians who find some of the economic and small government ideals appealing but continue to defend their pet nanny state projects and imperial aspirations.
Should libertarians be content to win converts or half-hearted patronization from self-serving, self-righteous, hypocritical, warmongering, statolatrous conservatives? I don’t think so. I believe if we actively courted progressives and accepted their faults as we seem to accept those of conservatives we’ll achieve critical mass for real political change much more quickly.