is a blithe fellow whose jocularity has displaced his fidelity to
facts. As a subject of his distortions in
Under My Skin," I would like to address the immediate and larger
I did not, as Goldberg asserts, call him an "ignoramus." My Webster's
gives "dunce" as an alternative word for "ignoramus," and I certainly
don't think Goldberg's a dunce. I indeed criticized his insouciant
ignorance of Ludwig von Mises's canon. Here, again, are the pertinent
sentences: "[I]f you want the purist libertarian stuff, go read
something by Ludwig Von Mises. Honestly, though, I don't know what
that would be." (For a neoconservative contrast, refer to David
Horowitz's appreciation of Mises in The Politics of Bad Faith:
The Radical Assault on America's Future.)
Goldberg misrepresents my article's intent as wanting him "to embrace
more libertarian thinkers." I am less than preoccupied with whether
Goldberg immerses himself in the thought of Mises, Murray Rothbard,
and other eminent libertarians. I would simply prefer that he not
caricature libertarians as a gaggle of loopy devolutionists (e.g.,
the "zealots" who logically criticize Friedrich Hayek's un-libertarian
Goldberg reduces my criticisms and those of my colleagues at LewRockwell.com
to infantile irrationality. David Dieteman, Gene Callahan, and I
"have banged their spoons on their high chairs about me," Dieteman
and I "spitting Diet Coke out their noses onto the computer screen."
Note that Goldberg avoids the substance of these critiques. (He
writes that he will not rebut them because "nobody cares." This
point seems tenuous at best.)
While it might disappoint him, Goldberg's haughty hogwash failed
to induce nasal ruptures. (I venture to say the same for Mr. Dieteman.)
And although I occasionally bang utensils in impersonation of androcentric
hegemony, I do so on standard chairs with a fork and/or knife. Suffice
it to say that Goldberg's circuitous mockery of contrary views isn't
an optimal rebuttal strategy.
Goldberg further perceives libertarianism monochromatically. He
writes of "the bile and hatred that so many libertarians
for traditionalists," and no doubt there's truth in this. However,
there's also no paucity of libertarians with traditional values,
as a perusal of the Ludwig von Mises Institute's faculty reveals.
Adjunct scholar William L. Anderson, for example, teaches at North
Greenville College not exactly a bastion of pagan sentiment.
(Its website carries the header, "Where Christ Makes the Difference.")
Libertarianism, it should go without saying, is not synonymous with
reduces my criticisms and those of my colleagues at LewRockwell.com
to infantile irrationality.
Goldberg advances a false dichotomy between classical liberalism's
decentralizing prescriptions and conservatism's affirmation of transcendent
truths underpinning moral order, citing Frank "fusionism" Meyer's
twilight conversion to Catholicism. One wonders, then, how the president
of the Ludwig von Mises Institute (Llewellyn H. Rockwell, Jr.) can
be a Catholic; perhaps piety need not be maintained to the exclusion
of liberal commitment.
Conversely, a conservative emphasis on authority and virtue need
not, and arguably cannot, entail authoritarian governance. Russell
Kirk after all identified "persuasion that freedom and property
are inseparably connected" as one of the six canons of conservative
thought in the 1953 edition of The Conservative Mind, correlating
property's erosion to Leviathan's entrenchment.
Goldberg recognizes and inflates common ground between libertarians
and conservatives when he writes, "Generally speaking, traditionalist
conservatives and free-market libertarians as opposed to
Maoist libertarians? agree on about 85% of all public-policy
issues." This is both theoretically valid and operationally erroneous.
Present-day conservatism, such as it is, not only countenances but
also promotes policies inimical to federalism and proprietary discretion.
Attorney General John Ashcroft described by Robert Reich
as "among the most right-wing politicians in contemporary America"
has affirmed his support of the Americans with Disabilities
Act, Fair Housing Act, and Titles II and VII of the 1964 Civil Rights
Act. All of these laws engage in counter-constitutional and anti-conservative
trespasses upon property rights and states' rights. (A corresponding
phenomenon is the GOP's inane iconolatry of Martin Luther King Jr.
See my discussion in the March issue of Chronicles.)
Conservatives' inurement to the anti-discrimination apparatus reflects
the extent of their estrangement from the political philosophy of
Kirk and Goldwater. (I won't even get into conservatives' complicity
with imperial belligerence in the executive branch, or the constitutional
destruction inflicted by the Cromwellian war on drugs.)
Goldberg writes of me having "a deep-seated resentment of conservatism
and a corresponding white-hot rage directed at anyone who deigns
to call libertarians 'conservatives.'" On the contrary, as a college
Republican chairman and Intercollegiate Studies Institute campus
leader during my college years, I have great respect for conservative
thought. (Yes, I still have my copy of Nash's treatise.) Unfortunately,
it is apparent that Goldberg lacks a reciprocal respect for libertarianism,
which, ironically, is in many ways a better repository of American
conservatism than the brand circulated among its ostensible heirs.