Hymowitz: Freedom Fetishists



[from the September issue of Commentary]

Kay S. Hymowitz

More than perhaps any other American political group, libertarians have suffered the blows of caricature. For many people, the term evokes an image of a scraggly misfit living in the woods with his gun collection, a few marijuana plants, some dog-eared Ayn Rand titles, and a battered pick-up truck plastered with bumper stickers reading “Taxes = Theft” and “FDR Was A Pinko.”

The stereotype is not entirely unfair. Even some of those who proudly call themselves libertarians recognize that their philosophy of personal freedom and minimal government can be a powerful magnet for the unhinged. Nor has recent political history done much to rehabilitate libertarianism’s image as an outlier.

The Libertarian party’s paltry membership has never reached much beyond the 250,000 mark, and polling numbers for Ron Paul, the perennial libertarian presidential candidate (now running for the Republican nomination), remain pitiable. Worse, despite Bill Clinton’s declaration that “the era of big government is over,” anti-statist ideas like school vouchers and privatized Social Security accounts continue to be greeted with wide-spread skepticism, while massive new programs like the Medicare prescription-drug benefit continue to win the support fo reelection minded incumbents. A recent New York Times survey found increasing support for government-run health care, and both parties are showing sigs of a populist resurgence, with demands for new economic and trade regulation.

And yet, judging by their output in recent years, libertarians are in a fine mood–and not because they are in denial.

[continue reading, subscription required]

Other articles include:

How Not to Get Out of Iraq

Max Boot

Foes of administration policy offer a variety of plans for ending American involvement; herewith, a guide and a critique.

New Orleans—An Autopsy

Ben C. Toledano

The funeral was not conducted until Katrina struck, but the death took place long before.

Can Europe Compete?

Carl Schramm and Robert E. Litan

Although the continent’s economic sluggishness may not be incurable, the obstacles to reform go very deep.

The Perplexities of Conservative Judaism

Jack Wertheimer

As the movement’s tent grows ever more accommodating, fewer seem interested in filling it.

Crying Poverty

Lawrence M. Mead

The plight of the poor has become a campaign issue—one to which even the campaigners have no solution.

A Wicked Son

Hillel Halkin

Why has a scion of the Israeli establishment turned violently against his country, and how significant is his apostasy?

Selling Classical Music

Terry Teachout

Of the challenges facing the new music director of the New York Philharmonic, staging outstanding concerts is the least.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s