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Hornberger's Blog is a daily libertarian blog written by Jacob G. Hornberger, founder and president of FFF.
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Libertarians versus Liberals and Conservatives


As I stated in yesterday’s blog post, both conservatives and liberals are using the Rand Paul controversy as a springboard to attack libertarianism in general. One almost gets the feeling that during the past several years, as the libertarian movement has been growing by leaps and bounds, a lot of pent-up anti-libertarian emotion has been building up within the statist community and that it has finally erupted as a result of the Rand Paul controversy.

Why do liberals and conservatives resent libertarians so much?

For liberals, it has to do with facing reality. For conservatives, it has to do with facing the life of the lie.

For decades, liberals have maintained a big delusion with respect to economics. For example, convincing themselves that the Great Depression was caused by America’s free-enterprise system, they then convinced themselves that Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal programs were simply free-enterprise reforms that saved America’s free-enterprise system.

Actually, the reality is that it wasn’t free enterprise that brought the 1929 stock-market crash. Instead, it was monetary manipulation brought about by the Federal Reserve that caused the crash. What Roosevelt then did is to seize upon the crisis to foist onto America an entirely different economic system, one that incorporated features of socialism (e.g., Social Security), interventionism (e.g., the SEC), and fascism (e.g., the NIRA and its propagandistic vehicle the “Blue Eagle.”).

As the libertarian free-market economist Ludwig von Mises pointed out, these types of statist programs and interventions inevitably lead to more and more economic crises. As those crises developed over the decades, liberals would blame them not on statism itself but, again, on “free enterprise.” They would then use this latest example of the purported failure of free enterprise to justify new statist programs and interventions.

As libertarians continue to point out, the economic crises are not the result of freedom and free enterprise but instead a direct consequence of liberal statism. Thus, our solution to such crises is the opposite of what liberals call for. While liberals call for more statism to cure what they believe is the failure of free enterprise, we libertarians call for the repeal of all the statism, which is what is actually producing the crises.

When a person is living a life of delusion, oftentimes the last thing he wants is to have someone confront him with reality. Yet, that’s precisely what libertarians have been doing and are continuing to do. We cause people to see reality for what it is, and liberals obviously deeply resent that.

When it comes to economics, conservatives have a much sounder grip on reality than liberals. Unlike liberals, most of them understand, for example, that the minimum wage causes unemployment, that price controls cause shortages, and that inflationary debasement of the currency is not a good thing. Conservatives are fond of quoting libertarian economists such as Milton Friedman, Mises, and Friedrich Hayek.

So, what’s the problem with conservatives? Long ago, despite their basic understanding of economics, they threw in the towel and embraced statism. They felt that if they adhered to their principles, they would never be taken seriously again by the mainstream press, which is largely statist, and, even worse, that they would never wield political power again.

So, they decided to abandon their principles and embrace statism, as reflected by their enthusiastic support for such statist programs as Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, public (i.e., government) schooling, public (i.e., government) housing, SBA loans, bank bailouts, foreign aid, corporate subsidies, the drug war, immigration controls, and just about every other statist program, department, and agency that has come down the pike.

To shroud their abandonment of integrity and principle, conservatives wrapped themselves within their old 1950s mantra of “free enterprise, private property, and limited government,” a mantra that even today they employ in their speeches, on their stationery, and on their websites.

Thus, is it any surprise that conservatives resent libertarians as much as liberals do? By our mere existence, which entails our unswerving opposition to statism and our unwavering devotion to free-market principles, we remind conservatives of what they did when they sold their soul in exchange for popularity and power.

Today, both liberals and conservatives can see the excitement that libertarianism is generating in ever-increasing numbers of people, especially young people. That phenomenon obviously has both liberals and conservatives terribly concerned.

In their joint attacks on libertarians, both liberals and conservatives are decrying libertarianism for being akin to late-night college debates and discussions, having no real practical application in the real world. What they’re saying, in essence, is this: “Ideals and principles are fine when you’re young. But once you become an adult, you’ve got to be practical. You’ve got to abandon yourself and your integrity. You must abandon your ideals — your must sell your soul — if you expect to succeed in life, especially in the political process.”

Libertarians say: “Balderdash to all that. There is absolutely no reason to abandon your idealism, your ideas, your principles, your integrity, and your truth, no matter how old you get. Liberals and conservatives represent the bankrupt statist past, the life of unreality, the life of the lie. You don’t have to become like them. You can maintain your idealism, your principles, and your integrity. Join up with us libertarians to lead the world out of the socialist, interventionist, and imperialist morass that liberals and conservative have brought us. Help us to lead the world to the highest reaches of freedom ever seen by mankind — to a world of freedom, free markets, a constitutionally limited government, peace, prosperity, and harmony.

This post was written by:

Jacob G. Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation. He was born and raised in Laredo, Texas, and received his B.A. in economics from Virginia Military Institute and his law degree from the University of Texas. He was a trial attorney for twelve years in Texas. He also was an adjunct professor at the University of Dallas, where he taught law and economics. In 1987, Mr. Hornberger left the practice of law to become director of programs at the Foundation for Economic Education. He has advanced freedom and free markets on talk-radio stations all across the country as well as on Fox News’ Neil Cavuto and Greta van Susteren shows and he appeared as a regular commentator on Judge Andrew Napolitano’s show Freedom Watch. View these interviews at LewRockwell.com and from Full Context. Send him email.