Monday, January 21, 2008

The Libertarian Culture Clash

David Friedman (Ideas) is right:
There are a lot of different things going on in libertarian reactions to Ron Paul in general and the quotes from the Ron Paul newsletters in particular. One of them, I think, is a culture clash between different sorts of libertarians....

Loosely speaking, I think the clash can be described as between people who see non-PC speech as a positive virtue and those who see it as a fault--or, if you prefer, between people who approve of offending liberal sensibilities ("liberal" in the modern sense of the term) and those who share enough of those sensibilities to prefer not to offend them. The former group see the latter as wimps, the latter see the former as boors.
What else is going on? Well, for one thing, a bunch of moralist scolds have leaped at the opportunity to preach their respective, often contradictory, and sometimes wacky visions of libertarian purity. When they have finished with Ron Paul and his gaggle of white supremacists and conspiracy theorists, they will return to bashing each other. Political purity may be self-satisfying, but it wins few converts and fewer elections.

Just to be clear about it, I hold no brief for Ron Paul.