Dirty Harry and the Mainstreaming of Libertarianism

14 09 2011

A few days ago, I expressed my opinion that libertarianism seems to be growing at the expense of both conservatism and liberalism. Of course, the validity and impartiality of my remarks are open to debate–I framed my argument with my experiences on UM’s campus as President of the College Libertarians.

Still, I never expected my hands-off views to be echoed by a venerated member of the Hollywood Establishment.

That’s not really much of a surprise, you’re thinking. Some crazy Lib probably came out (so to speak) in favor of gay rights. Maybe it was Fonda. Or Redford. They all seem to be using the same set of talking points, so they may as well be interchangeable.

But what if I told you it was Clint Eastwood?

It's seriously impossible to over-post this image

He makes a few great points (with his characteristic saltiness) in a brief interview with GQ magazine. I’ll leave you to investigate rather than reproduce them here, but his point is clear: we have more important things to do than fret about what others do in their private lives.

We must draw a distinction between this laissez-faire, individual rights-based stance (which I have claimed is on the ascendancy) and the relentless identity politicking of the left.

I believe much opposition to socially liberal policies is a somewhat understandable, if knee-jerk, reaction to anti-family and anti-values progressive demagoguery. Trying to protect cherished cultural institutions with the shield of government, however, is ultimately counterproductive.

Indeed, many libertarians (myself among them) believe that the government has no business in marriage at all; any attempts to grant state privilege to one group or another only serves to introduce more avenues for control.

But all this is part of a bigger and far more important picture. Whatever your stance on social issues, the single most important concern today is economic liberty. Out of control spending, discouraging rates of taxation, and regulations that seem designed to throw a wrench into the gears of industry are finally catching up with our ability to grow and innovate. We cannot let this trend continue. If we don’t stop the leviathan, the results will be disastrous.

The destruction of economic opportunity caused by suffocating government will create a generation of burned-out nihilists, since wealth destruction tends to create desperate individuals with nothing to lose (see: Weimar Germany). Nothing will destroy the fabric of our society more quickly than a government that renders us all destitute.

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