Reason’s Brian Doherty wrote an article responding to one written by Will Wilkinson, from the allegedly libertarian think tank the Niskanen Center.
Basically, Wilkinson claims that the best way to achieve liberty is to not be extremist in your principles, to be moderate instead and to submit to the political system, to compromise, to the state as a face of life, and basically any other thing that all non-libertarians also accept.
Brian Doherty responds with a nicely nuanced article, where he indicates that proof of the effectiveness of moderation of principle is just as lacking as proof of the effectiveness of extremism in principle.
But in responding to such “reasonable” and “practical” types as Wilkinson, always trying to be subversive to libertarian momentum and trying to take a necessary edge of the sharp moral conviction of libertarians, i never feel really satisfied by nicely nuanced responses. It’s like saying “shame on you” to co-opting infiltrators or saboteurs. It’s not quite putting across the message.
So why not let Wilkinson speak for himself, in order to show the reader just what an utter fraud he is when he tries to pose as a libertarian who knows best for the rest of us what to do in order to see change? Why not let Wilkinson explain how he really sees himself, and in so doing destroy any credibility he ought to have with genuine libertarians? In his own words:
I’m not interested in identifying which among the many kinds of bleeding-heart libertarian I am because I’m not interested in identifying myself a libertarian. … What “libertarian” tends to mean to most people, including most people who self-identify as libertarian, is flatly at odds with some of what I believe. So I guess I’m just a liberal; the bleeding heart goes without saying.
Here are some not-standardly-libertarian things I believe: Non-coercion fails to capture all, maybe even most, of what it means to be free. Taxation is often necessary and legitimate. The modern nation-state has been, on the whole, good for humanity. Democracy is about as good as it gets.
Given the prevailing public understanding of “libertarianism,” this ain’t it and I’m no libertarian.
Anyway, I would encourage other decreasingly standard-libertarian libertarian-ish types to hasten their passage through the liminal “bleeding heart” stage and just come out as liberals.
Reading what Wilkinson has to say about his own views, is there really any reason to waste time and energy trying to refute his argument about the most effective way to get more liberty?