Libertarian Delusions

From the August/September 2014 Print Edition

Recently I was invited to give a lecture on libertarianism at a prestigious Christian college. The large lecture hall was packed with bright-eyed, wholesome-looking Christian students, a number of whom lingered afterward to press their case for . . . libertarianism.Only ten years ago, this scene would have been unlikely. Most people had never heard of libertarianism, and for those who had, the idea consisted of not much more than vague associations with pot-smoking atheism and adolescent rebellion. No more. Once an eccentric and uneasy uncle within the American conservative movement, libertarianism has become the smart, disciplined, and well-dressed son, ready to claim his inheritance from his declining, if not doddering, father.Modern liberals tend to call anyone who defends the free market and limited government a “libertarian,” but this is incorrect, and serves merely to protect them from seriously engaging the issues. Whereas modern liberals relegate economic liberty to a secondary status, libertarians root it in self-ownership and regard it as the most fundamental right, without which no other rights are meaningful. Libertarians therefore are “minarchists.” They believe that the only legitimate use of the state power is to prevent coercion. Continue Reading »

In Defense of Wendell Berry

From Web Exclusives

Having written favorably on Wendell Berry, and having edited a collection of essays on his work, I would like to respond to Matt Franck’s critique of Berry’s Jefferson Lecture. I share Matt’s disappointment with the lecture. I found it to be uncharacteristically long, at times redundant, and overall unbalanced in its treatment of corporations… . Continue Reading »

Drawing Pro-Life Lines

From the October 2001 Print Edition

In last fall’s presidential election pro-life voters were faced with a difficult moral choice emblematic of the politics of abortion in general: Does moral principle demand a vote for a marginally pro-life candidate with a chance of winning, or does it demand a vote for a completely pro-life . . . . Continue Reading »