Sunday, January 10, 2010

Howley Has a Defender

One Henri Hein, writing in a letter to the February issue of Reason, echoes the basic Kerry Howley line that Dan McCarthy and I don’t “grasp” that freedom in the libertarian sense requires opposing such activities as shunning, mocking, encouraging conformity, and ostracizing.

On the contrary: I understand that just as free individuals will often hunt, eat fattening food, swear, publish books about the evils of taxation, and have sex, so too will they shun, mock, encourage conformity, and ostracize.

The idea that some libertarian philosophical line can be drawn with any logical coherence that explains when these activities by free people are forbidden is absurd.  (Is mean-spirited stand-up comedy unlibertarian now?)  You want freedom, you accept the possibility that numerous people may call you “fatty fat-fat” and that your only right as a libertarian citizen is to respond with words of your own — or even by, yes, ostracizing and shunning the bullies if you so choose.  Libertarianism is a political philosophy, not a (very mysterious and vague) set of etiquette rules kept on file somewhere that has not yet been revealed to the non-Howley-style libertarians.

That there are libertarians who cannot grasp this simple fact — that a free society is not necessarily one where everyone will be nice to you — is alarming.  It is every bit as stupid as, albeit less dangerous than, hippies in the 60s thinking that Maoism would entail not just a certain governmental regime but the implicit promise that everyone living under that regime would “be groovy.”

Do the pro-Howley libertarians (of which I hope and expect there are very few) think we can shun, mock, and ostracize Marxists, I wonder?

But no more of this squabbling — there’s a dominant party in Congress that needs ousting.

1 comment:

Kerry Howley said...

I suspect that there are indeed very few “pro-Howley libertarians” as you caricature them, since not even I am one of them.