Sunday, May 13, 2018

Is Trump Shrewder Than Libertarian Conservatives?

Ross Douthat writes in the New York Times:
Trump...has been shrewder than libertarian conservatives in recognizing that individualism is not enough, that the right needs a politics of solidarity.
Not so. Libertarianism is a politics around liberty, the NAP, that is all.

It is not that Trump is shrewder by his willingness to create a solidarity against different classes and groups. Libertarians have understood the politics of solidarity at least since Freidrich Hayek wrote The Road to Serfdom.

Hayek's observation in chapter 10, titled "Why the Worst Get on Top," of the book gets to the point  (my bold):
It is in connection with the deliberate effort of the skillful demagogue to weld together a closely coherent and homogeneous body of supporters that the third and perhaps most important negative element of selection enters. It seems to be almost a law of human nature that it is easier for people to agree on a negative program—on the hatred of an enemy, on the envy of those better off—than on any positive task. The contrast between the “we” and the “they,” the common fight against those outside the group, seems to be an essential ingredient in any creed which will solidly knit together a group for common action. It is consequently always employed by those who seek, not merely support of a policy, but the unreserved allegiance of huge masses. From their point of view it has the great advantage of leaving them greater freedom of action than almost any positive program. The enemy, whether he be internal, like the “Jew” or the “kulak,” or external, seems to be an indispensable requisite in the armory of a totalitarian leader.
Yeah, libertarians get political solidarity, we get the anti-Iranian solidarity, the anti-immigrant solidarity, etc. to rouse up the masses. We just don't want to go there.

This is not a libertarian predicament, it is a choice.

-Robert Wenzel  


  1. If nationalistic authoritarianism is considered “shrewd” then I’m glad that libertarians aren’t shrewd.

  2. Does Robert have a secret stash of these less-than-flattering Trump photo images?