Contra David Frum - Principled Libertarianism Is the Highest Level on the Philosophical Ladder

What A Great Society!
What A Great Society!
Image Credit:

I count him braver who overcomes his desires than him who conquers his enemies; for the hardest victory is over self.



The great mind, in a free land, is free from the law. Not in the spoiled-brat Nietzschean Ubermensch sense, but rather in the sense of the adult who sets his own limits, tends his own fences, knows his own capabilities and owns his own life. You only enjoy freedom if you are man enough to take care of it. The Great American lives at peace within the law yet simultaneously far above it both in spirit and in intellect. The Great American Libertarian is the greatest rebel of them all. He successfully achieves freedom through ongoing revolution against the baser urges of his fallen self.

This explains why the current state of The Libertine, oops, I mean Libertarian Party is such an ongoing American tragedy. Its tawdry descent into licentious auto-buggery despoils the higher good of ordered and principled liberty. If Lisa Kennedy Montgomery is the true spirit of the Establishment Libertarian,* pass the Right Guard – they smell like Teen Spirit.

“Let’s say Ron Paul is Nirvana,” said Kennedy, the television personality and former MTV host, by way of explaining the sort of politician who excites libertarians like herself. “Like, the coolest, most amazing thing to come along in years, and the songs are nebulous but somehow meaningful, and the lead singer kills himself to preserve the band’s legacy. “Then Rand Paul — he’s Pearl Jam. Comes from the same place, the songs are really catchy, can really pack the stadiums, though it’s not quite Nirvana. “Ted Cruz? He’s Stone Temple Pilots. Tries really hard to sound like Pearl Jam, never gonna sound like Nirvana. Really good voice, great staying power — but the whole is not greater than the sum of its parts.”


Given the vacuity of the chosen Libertarian Spokesbrat, it comes as no surprise that Establishmentarian GOP Hack, David Frum, burns the childish and vapid Libertarian Straw-man as a cynical method of settling internal GOP scores. Frum pontificates in the pages of The Atlantic.

Spoiler alert: Draper’s wrong, emphatically wrong. Young voters are not libertarian, nor even trending libertarian. Neither, for that matter, are older voters. The “libertarian moment” is not an event in American culture. It’s a phase in internal Republican Party factionalism. Libertarianism is not pushing Republicans forward to a more electable future. It’s pushing them sideways to the extremist margins.

If we define Libertarianism as devoid of consequential limitation, Frum has a point. Republicans For Bong-Hits isn’t going to dominate next year’s CPAC or decide the outcome of The Iowa Caucus in 2016. But then again, New Libertarianism is a lot more than mindless comparisons to 90’s Era heroin-users who played music to support their nihilistic binges. In a piece for The Federalist, Ben Domenech gives us a better picture of the broad survey of conscientious Libertarian thought applied to political problems.


They rejected the idea that the Republican Party was any less hypocritical than the Democrats, that the Ruling Class knew best about which direction to take the country, and accepted the idea that the Compassionate Conservative approach to policy has failed. In place of all these, they accept a view that liberty is better than paternalism from the left or right – even paternalism applied with good intentions.

And despite the positive high road that thoughtful Libertarianism can offer, people uninformed of this perspective vote for paternalism as if they still need daddy. Then they follow the Nirvana Libertarian impulse of Kennedy when they spread disorder and loot because they can. Daddy predictably gets an Excedrin Headache from the civil disorder attendant with Nirvana Libertarianism. He sends an Army of militarized policemen down the ruined and burning street firing tear gas. People learn the hard way just who their gubbermint daddy really is.

When people turn away from both the social justice handouts and the mechanized police infantry that these handouts necessitate, when people internalize an ethic that personal responsibility is good while paternalistic government is the fundamental root of all secular evil, when people own their own decisions, they commence the ascent towards freedom from the laws. To coin the old, musical Libertarian cliche; they choose Free Will. It is a superior Free Will forged in personal responsibility and tempered with judicious self-restraint. As Aristotle famously said of his philosophy: “I have gained this from philosophy: that I do without being commanded what others do only from fear of the law.” Imagine what America could gain as a nation if more people could say the same.


*-Savor the Hipsterish irony of that concept.


Join the conversation as a VIP Member

Trending on RedState Videos