Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Moral Exhaustion in the Face of the Enemy

Vodkapundit almost (but not quite) despairs over the jelly-spines of his fellow Libertarians when it comes to the War on Terror; discussion by Joe Katzman at Winds of Change. (Also at WoC: Another interesting exchange on Hiroshima, Dresden, and Just Warfare.)

My comment at Woc:
So he wants to know where the Libertarians are? In the same place the Democrats and the paleocons are: Waiting for all of this to go away somehow so that they can get back to the things they want to talk about.

The problem with Libertarianism - which has so many good things going for it - is that in practice it's too barren and dispassionate to serve as a complete belief system. It tends to be all head with no heart and no guts. It has formulas where its moral fiber should be.
I agree with Libertarians about a whole host of things, and I generally like and respect Libertarians. Even the Libertarians for whom "Libertarianism" is obviously just an elaboration of "Legalize Pot", and who write like they just ate a whole pan of Special Brownies.

However, I hesitate to trust Libertarian purists. Even the ones who are not drunk on chocolate and THC. The Libertarian Muse is an advisor and a critic, not a burning-bush moral authority or a solid guide to practical reasoning. Low taxes and limited government are essential ideas (though not confined to 'Tarians). Schemes to privatize city traffic lights are fun. But when it comes to abolishing the FBI, the CIA, and the Marine Corps, you might as well be working for the enemy.

But who is the enemy? Like leftists, Libertarians tend to have faulty IFF (Identification Friend or Foe) systems. The statist liberal who lives across the street seems more dangerous than all the Nazis, Commies, and terrorists who ever lived. Likewise the Christian conservative who lives next door to the liberal - and why not? They're probably all in cahoots.

Of course, the Nazi-Commie-Terrorists are off in foreign lands, where they belong. The Libertarian is not overly concerned with the Stuff Across the Puddle. A Libertarian globe has three geographic features: Hong Kong, Zurich, and the United States. Everything else is grayed-out and labelled NONE OF OUR BUSINESS. Consulting the gazetteer, you learn that the people who live there are PROBABLY FUCKED, but this is NOT OUR FAULT.