Shakesville War II appears to have begun over the political phenomenon that is Ron Paul and the larger question, asked by Melissa McEwen, of how people who profess to hold a consistent libertarian philosophy can be anti-abortion.
I know folks I consider good people who identify as libertarian, including one that's run for political office as such. But they tend to be in liberal communities like Boston and San Francisco, rather than conservative communities like Orange County, and the libertarian movements in these communities (being small, and in need of more supporters) tend to take on the political positions of the people around them.
In the case of liberal communities, it means an emphasis on the wrongness of criminalizing drugs, and support for gay rights and reproductive freedom. Some of them say the state has no business involved in marriage, but they concede that if it's going to be it certainly has no business telling some people they can marry and others they can't.
In conservative communities, it means an emphasis on the wrongness of taxes and gun control, and support for anti-abortion laws and increasing the power of religion, with justifications that have always seemed like handwaving to me.
The most popular form of handwaving these days seems to be federalist buck-passing: candidates for national office declare that positions they can't justify under a libertarian philosophy should be left to the states; candidates for state office (if they can't get statewide support for their measure) say it should be left to local government. I'm not all that sure what candidates for local government do - pass the buck back up to the state/fed by claiming that the protection of rights by those levels of government is interfering with the democratic process?
In the case of reproductive freedom (a term I use to encompass both abortion and contraception), I'm just going to plagiarize myself and use language I originally wrote for the Shakesville thread, in response to someone making the typical attempt to reconcile anti-abortion with libertarianism by calling it a use of force (the words used in the original reply, as will become obvious, were "life or death situation"):
When they call terrorism a life-or-death situation, and advocate reducing liberty to fight it, they're not libertarian. When they call health care a life-or-death situation, and advocate reducing liberty (if you call taxation reducing liberty, which they tend to) to promote it, they're not libertarian. When they call drug abuse a life-or-death situation, and advocate reducing liberty to discourage it, they're not libertarian. When they call shooting people a life-or-death situation, and advocate reducing liberty to control guns, they're not libertarian.
But abortion is different. You can call it a stark life-or-death situation, and advocate reducing liberty to outlaw it. Guess what the difference is?
What it comes down to is that, in my experience, libertarianism is a very self-centered philosophy. Not that libertarians are all self-centered as we typically understand the term, but the choice of issues, and the positions on the issues, reflect only that which is important to their overwhelmingly white/straight/male/rich (I've met libs who weren't all of these, but never any who weren't at least two out of the four) base. Hence the enormous emphasis on the guns, drugs and taxes trifecta, and the relative indifference to issues of abortion, gay rights, racism, sexism, etc. (except for the parts of those issues that could conceivably affect them, like child support, hate crime laws, affirmative action, anti-discrimination laws, etc.)
2 years ago