Virtue libertarianism is fundamentalism lite

Hello loves. Sorry for no newsletter Thursday and Friday. My site was down for reasons unknown but now it’s up! Hooray!

What a terrible weekend. I summed it up on Facebook thusly: It’s still a terrifying time to be out as LGBTQ.

If you’re not worried about being beaten to death for using the wrong bathroom, you’re worried about being murdered in a nightclub.
Let’s stop arguing about which flavor of intolerance is worst. The problem isn’t Christianity or Islam. It’s Illliberalism. It’s that too few people believe that the right way to live is to live and let live.

Since posting that, I’ve been thinking about Libertarianism, Yes! But *What Kind* of Libertarianism?.

What bothers me about the message that it’s a libertarian’s duty to provide negative consequences for cooperative behavior is that it requires you to believe that coercion that’s not perpetrated by the state isn’t coercion.

The truth is that there’s only a difference in scope, and not kind, between shooting people and “providing approbation and disapproval” for being gay. In this case the difference in scope is a very, very important difference. But shooting people and publicly shaming them are still justified by the same idea, that you know what’s best for people and thus have moral authority to punish them for not behaving the way you’d like them to.

Steven Horwitz, Deirdre McCloskey, and Katherine Mangu-Ward articulated better than I ever could that no, you don’t know what’s best for people. And that’s one reason why you don’t get to go around punishing people for cooperative behavior that you don’t like. But moreover, what William Ruger and Jason Sorens misunderstand about libertarianism is that its central goal isn’t “virtue” as they understand it, but liberalism. When I say liberalism I mean in the classical liberal sense. The problem with libertarianism is that in an effort to appeal to conservatives for the purpose of, I won’t even say smaller government, since they’re mostly fine with sodomy laws, but lower taxes, they’ve sold out classical liberalism.

They’ve replaced liberalism with fundamentalism. Fundamentalism seeks to get everyone on the same page about how to live, even if it takes punishing them. Liberalism seeks to teach people the benefits of allowing everyone live peacefully as they wish.

This is a horrific turn, because fundamentalism is ugly. Very ugly. At best it’s shaming, harassment, and ostracization. At worst, it’s walking into a nightclub and murdering people.

A recent interview with Muslim scholar Shadi Hamid in the Atlantic shows that neither Christians nor Muslims are grasping the appeal, the importance, of liberalism.

This is a challenge for liberals. This is a challenge for libertarians. Ruger and Sorens call themselves libertarians while advocating fundamentalism lite, and without ever grasping the importance of liberalism.

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