NRO's Jonah Goldberg weighs in on the prospects of a Liberal-Libertarian fusion, such as that advocated by Brink Lindsey. Among Goldberg's more interesting claims is that a significant portion of the libertarian movement has shifted its focus (and here I paraphrase) from "freedom from coercion" to "freedom from constraint." In Goldberg's words:
Libertarianism was once primarily concerned with negative liberty — i.e. delineating a zone free of government intrusion. Meyer’s libertarianism was primarily concerned with the ability of the individual to find the virtuous path within “an objective moral order based on ontological foundations” best expressed in Western civilization. As such, fusionism was less a coalitional doctrine than a metaphysical imperative.
That was then, but this is now.
[A]ccording to today’s leading libertarians, economic freedom’s virtue lies in its ability to provide everybody the custom-made lifestyle of his choice. . . . This emphasis on the liberating power of technology and wealth — i.e., materialism and positive liberty — represents an enormous philosophical transformation within libertarianism that echoes, albeit faintly, elements of the economic liberalism of John Dewey and FDR. It also shows that today’s libertarians have a different view of the 1960s than their forefathers.
Goldberg acknowledges that conservatives have changed as well -- and are far more friendly to big government than they once were -- but he thinks libertarians need to acknowledge their evolution as well.
if the conservative-libertarian union is in trouble, it’s not solely because conservatives have strayed from their vows. Marriages tend to dissolve when both parties “grow apart,” and libertarians have been doing quite a bit of growing themselves. “You’ve changed” is a fair accusation from both sides, though “I don’t even know you anymore” is surely an exaggeration. Perhaps the real lesson here is that conservatives and libertarians need to recommit themselves to the fusionist project. In other words: Let’s seek counseling.
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