Jeff Deist writes:
It is reasonable to believe that a more libertarian society would be less libertine and more culturally conservative — for the simple reason that as the state shrinks in importance and power, the long-suppressed institutions of civil society grow in importance and power. And in a more libertarian society, it’s harder to impose the costs of one’s lifestyle choices on others.
Roderick Long replies:
As I see it, this gets things precisely backwards. States impose uniformity; civil society, freed of state control, caters to diversity.
This is simplistic. Diversity is due to the variety of human individual potentials. But potentialities are not possibilities. Not every possible world can arise from the present one. An attempt to create a possibility that is in violation of one’s potential is an instance of perverse development. Thus, an acorn that tried to grow not into an acorn tree but into a pig would not only fail but wound itself in the process. But such monstrous diversity as a chimera that is 90%-acorn tree-10%-pig is encouraged by a state which compels others to pay the cost of one’s perversions, failures, and sicknesses. That’s all Deist is arguing.
In other words, libertarianism will encourage virtuous, both individually and socially, diversity; and discourage vicious diversity. The net effect on “diversity” as such is unclear.
Long links to his article on patriarchy (whatever that means), which touts turning Rothbard on his head. Rothbard argues that “the Left seems to be constitutionally incapable of leaving people alone in the most fundamental sense; it seems incapable of refraining from a continual pestering, haranguing and harassment of everyone in sight or earshot.” He would like “to come to the aid of the bourgeoisie, to rescue the Middle American from his triumphant tormentors.” Long proposes instead that it is precisely the Middle America that would not mind its own business and oppresses minorities via “restrictive cultural attitudes and practices.” He, Long, and not Rothbard is the real champion of the tormented, acting “in service rather than violation of ‘a morality of basic civility, of courtesy, of civilized life, of respect for the dignity of every individual.'”
But the situation is actually much more prosaic. It is obvious that Rothbard in his short polemic simply assumes that feminism, as a system of thought, is false. He then points out that it’s not just that the feminists are intellectually wrong; the hilarious absurdity is that they are fanatically devoted to their errors. And not only that, but the feminists think their ideological opponents are not merely misguided but morally evil and need to be preached to with zealous and “continual badgering, harassing, and pestering.”
(That’s one reason why you can’t have a normal conversation even with an intelligent feminist about the merits of his doctrine. The feminist will proceed by screaming condemnations and obscenities to your face. Which is boring.)
Can the same be said about the Middle Americans? Long may of course demur and insist that feminism is correct. But there is no way is it true that “the average person” in the course of his “peaceful pursuit of his own goals and his own values in his quietly sensible life” is a screaming fanatic of any kind, or wants to save the world from oppressors, real or imagined, or is out to reform the alleged sinners. Hence, Long’s analogy fails.