David Weigel, late of the Washington Post‘s blog, now writes for Slate, where he posted, yesterday, about a possible “purge” at the Cato Institute. Personnel changes at Cato are of only scant interest to those not employed by Cato (or so it should be, partisan obsessions aside), but something Weigel wrote deserves attention:
In 2006, after the GOP lost Congress, [Brink] Lindsey coined the term “Liberaltarians” to suggest that Libertarians and liberals could work together outside of the conservative movement. Shortly after this, he launched a dinner series where liberals and Libertarians met to discuss big ideas. (Disclosure: I attended some of these dinners.) In 2009 and 2010, as the libertarian movement moved back into the right’s fold, Lindsey remained iconoclastic—just last month he penned a rare, biting criticism of The Battle, a book by AEI President Arthur Brooks which argues that economic theory is at the center of a new American culture war.
Forget Lindsey, forget Brooks; focus, instead, on one component of the above narrative: The alleged move rightward, “back into the right’s fold,” of the libertarian movement. Surely this is a severely wrongheaded characterization of recent events.
Mr. Weigel appears to suffer from a failure of perspective; he’s been deceived by a parallax view.
Have libertarians moved rightward? Hardly. Liberals and “the left” have, instead, achieved power, through their ties to the majority in Congress and the president in the White House. Like most folks who get power — barely constrained power, post-Constitutional power, at that — they have become unhinged.
Why would anyone with sense want to get in bed with them? Take the advice of the Kama Sutra, instead: Never become intimate with a crazy person.
Of course, by parallax view, the motion towards power and thievery by the ersatz liberals may make libertarians — indeed, Americans in general — seem to move right. But, if you understand context, you will not fall prey to such nonsense.
Earth to Weigel: When motoring at night under a full moon, the moon does not follow you. It’s an illusion. If you fall for it, you may not be a lunatic, but you ain’t a sage, either.
Note: I just blogged about this on Wirkman Netizen, at greater length.