Ms. Kay Hymowitz delivers certain opinions regarding libertarianism.
More than perhaps any other American political group, libertarians have suffered the blows of caricature. For many people, the term evokes an image of a scraggly misfit living in the woods with his gun collection, a few marijuana plants, some dogeared Ayn Rand titles, and a battered pickup truck plastered with bumper stickers reading "Taxes = Theft" and "FDR Was A Pinko."
The stereotype is not entirely unfair. Even some of those who proudly call themselves libertarians recognize that their philosophy of personal freedom and minimal government can be a powerful magnet for the unhinged. Nor has recent political history done much to rehabilitate libertarianism's image as an outlier.
Libertarians come in many flavors, of course, but they share certain enthusiasms beyond free-market economics. They are often great consumers of science fiction, with an avid interest in space travel. And they have an almost unlimited enthusiasm for biotechnology, especially for advances that might allow us to manipulate our natures and extend our lives. Taken together, these elements constitute what might be called the libertarian dream--the dream of shaping your own meaning, liberated from family, from the past, from tradition, from biology, and perhaps even from the earth itself.
Such utopian ambitions are difficult to satisfy or even contain in the mundane world of American politics. For some time to come, they are likely to make libertarianism the natural home of assorted cranks and crazies, and thus to continue to provide fodder for its at least partly deserved caricature.
Angus and I are both libertarians, after a fashion. But our views have roots rather different from those described in the books Ms. Hymowitz reviews.
We don't trust people.
We actually pretty much don't even LIKE other people, with a few temporary exceptions. (This includes each other, but I have to admit he has cause. He has CAUSE, I'm sayin'.)
Both of us worked in the private sector. Angus ended up being a union steward (yes, he did!), just because he wouldn't back down to the dickhead foreman on the welding crew. (Yes, imagine that: Angus with a blow torch. And this was before he achieved his current, heavily muscled physique!).
And I...well, I worked a bunch of different places, and have little love for the hierarchy and repression of the industrial workplace.
Most jobs suck. Most corporations are rapacious, and most foremen are dickheads.
But you can leave a job. You can't leave a city / county / state / nation, at least not without paying your "fair share" of taxes. ("What do I owe you?" "Well, what have you got?")
Angus and I aren't utopian libertarians. (And I think the Bishop is with us on this). Things can be really bad in the private sector. But they are rarely SO bad that attempted meddling by bed-wetting, tree-hugging do gooders can't make things much, much worse.
So, Kay Hymowitz is wrong. We are not trying to be liberated "from the earth itself." We would be satisfied just to be sure we are free from Kay Hymowitz.
(Nod to C-Greg)