Daniel McCarthy, editor of Modern Age and editor at large for The American Conservative, recently published an essay on the Spectator USA site titled “Why Libertarians are Wrong.” It merits a response because Mr. McCarthy is friendly and sympathetic toward libertarianism, and despite the infirmities of his article ought to be seen as a fellow traveler.
The title misleads us a bit from the beginning, because McCarthy is sound on the single most important libertarian political issue: war and peace. He objected to George W. Bush’s foray into Iraq, he attacks the permanent-war complex and its funding, and he consistently advocates a reasonably non-interventionist US foreign policy far closer to Ron Paul than John Bolton. He also has read Mises and Hayek, and unlike many intellectual conservatives (a dwindling group) McCarthy is not mired in Burke or Buckley or Reagan. He even blogged for the 2008 Paul presidential campaign and has spoken at the Mises Institute on foreign policy. So unlike a Bill Kristol or Sean Hannity, his conservative critique comes without ignorance or malice.
But it doesn’t come without errors, a few of them gross. First and foremost, McCarthy reads political libertarianism and support for free markets far too broadly. He wants answers to the great civilization and cultural questions of our day, from China’s influence to the growth of Islam in Europe to wealth inequality and the rise of a bureaucratic overclass. Consider this sweeping criticism:
Man, Economy, and Stat…
Best Price: $8.77
Buy New $22.00
(as of 04:20 EST – Details)
If this America without a middle class is more politically stable than I think it will be, I suspect it will nonetheless face insuperable…