That’s a pretty great blog post, but I have a few questions:
1) If your views on federalism and local control are rooted in a prudential judgment, wouldn’t it make more sense to call you a conservative?
2) It occurs to me that most people at least pay lip service to the idea of local experimentation within some broader, rules-based framework. So how do you determine the appropriate level of intrusiveness for central government? Your post suggests that competing localities will help us find the right equilibrium, but local conditions or policies might make it exceedingly difficult for people to leave. I guess I’m wondering what minimum constraints you’d suggest on the actions of state and local governments.
I tend to agree with you, especially when it comes to issues (i.e. abortion) that have been determined at the national level but are so divisive and polarizing that the boundaries formed over them come at the expense of real political dynamism on other issues that can be addressed more creatively. Is there a counter argument, though, that allowing states a greater hand on many issues can, over time, create sectionalism and greater national disunity?
“Liberty-as-goal” refers to radical libertarians, and “liberty-as-means” refers to conservative libertarians. I’m surprised you haven’t encountered those distinctions before; I ran into them before I was out of college.
1: Yes, it will tend to shade into what Tim of Angle below calls conservative libertariansim or Burkean conservatism or what Andrew Sullivan calls “conservatism of doubt” (with some caveats that I mention below).
2. I don’t think that there is an algortihmic answer to that question.
Yes. I went into this point in an earlier post as a key tension between libertarianism and national survival in a dangerous world.
Tim of Angle:
Yes, I think that it’s generally true, but the mapping is not close to “tends to agree with Democrats” and “tends to agree with Republicans”. One obvious case is gun control. A liberty-as-means libertarian would be much more likely to allow great lattitude to localities to restrict gun ownership.
Well abortion would be the devisive issue…traditional wisdom dictates womyn should stay home in the cave and breed. However, as citizens, women have rights over their own bodies.
So your federalist experiments (or localized mob-rule) would be an epic fail right there.
Just be honest, Dr. M.
Small government and big local [religious] welfare worked fine until blacks and women became citizens.
The welfare state evolved to give welfare and justice to non-white, non-male citizens.
The welfare state doesn’t cause socialism…it causes the death of the previous localized welfare providers….organized white protestant religion.
Which I guess was ok as long as the electorate was 95% white protestant.
But now white protestant is 75% , and by 2030 white protestant will be 40something %.
So what you are proposing are little pockets of America walled off from the effects of cultural and demographic evolution.
You are proposing Richard Morgan’s Jesusland in Thirteen.
Dr. Manzi, your Distributed Jesusland can never work, because of the citizen rights of women and children.
For exactly the same reason that Yearning for Zion didn’t work.
Your are just proposing a bunch of small distributed YFZs.
Well ……why not a small enclave of deaf culture citizens, where all the children have to be born deaf, or have their hearing impaired by surgery? Or a small enclave of fundamentalist shariah observant amerimuslims?
Surrender now, Riddick.
Conservatism in this instantiation is a dead paradigm.
The current Ugly is its death throes. Parents rabidly objecting to having the Elected American President address school children on the value of being good citizens and staying in school?
You should be devoting your considerable talents to whats next.
One more thing….I can’t say how bitterly disappointed I am in this line of false reasoning.
There is no “liberty-as-goal” libertarianism and “liberty-as-means” libertarianism.
There is only my liberty is more privileged than your liberty.
That is why you have lost the youth demographic.
We can smell crapweasel reasoning a mile off.
I really don’t see “liberty-as-means” as a recognizable form of libertarianism at all. Instead, it just sounds like an abandonment of political philosophy altogether for something akin to pragmatism or rule-consequentialism.
Also, surely, there are better reasons to oppose localities re-introducing chattel slavery than the fact that we decided to go a different route 150 years ago.
I suppose Manzi’s Distributed Jesusland would let parents prevent their children from watching the president’s television address in school……..but why stop there?
The local mobs..err….federalists could rewrite the science texts to exclude ToE, AND the history books to exclude Obama!!!
Well stated, Mr. Manzi. I too fall into the 2nd camp, and have known for a long time that I do. Another term to describe the 1st one is “ideologues.” They are sometimes worse for us than the socialists, because by refusing to consider practical coerciveness on as local or limited a level as possible, they leave our society wide open for a takeover by the socialists and totalitarians. For example, they refuse to consider a netzero gas tax, because it doesn’t fit their laissez-faire ideology. So by sticking their heads in the sand, they leave the field open to those who are MORE than willing to institute coercive measures on a massive scale. Similarly with health care reform.
I too fall into the 2nd camp
Then you should move to YFZ, Reticulator, and help one of Manzi’s Eutopian Federalist Distributed Jesuslands survive.
I’m sure you have have skillz to bring, and you would find the local sub-culture highly attractive.
(Forgive me, but the Textile business is beyond me for the moment. I hope you find the fruits of the links to be worth the effort of copying and pasting.)
Taken from http://d-poli-blog.blogspot.com/
Manzi’s article here is right on point. I was impressed by the nuance of his reasoning and by the dexterity with which he teased apart two nearly overlapping concepts over the course of his article.
What surprised me a bit, then, for such a clever thinker, was that his final paragraph seems to be completely irrational. In it, he cites human slavery as the sort of moral problem that might upend Libertarian thinking. But how can slavery fit at all in a Libertarian framework, since the human slaves themselves possess no liberty? (Letting alone the political and moral problems, slavery in and of itself causes huge market distortions for the labor market, as much a reason to be rid of it as any, from a Libertarian point of view.)
For a man as obviously intelligent as Manzi, this lapse in logic is perplexing. Would love for him to further elaborate in case it is I who is missing something.
In the mean time, I offer this playful post as a truly Libertarian notion of slavery, influenced by recent acquaintances I have found who are deeply embedded in the sexual bondage community. While I find little to no gratification in this sort of lifestyle, I am pleased that I have met enough reasonable people who do to open my minds to larger possibilities.