Incite -- (v) 1: give an incentive; 2: provoke or stir up; "incite a riot"; 3: urge on; cause to act
Tuesday, March 15, 2005

The Neolibertarian Network
Written by: Beck

Some of you may have noticed that INCITE's sidebar now contains a link and logo to the Neolibertarian Network under the Affiliations section. Regardless of whether you noticed or not, some questions need to be answered.

The obvious one is, what in hell is a "neolibertarian?" The boys at QandO (who are also the founders of the NN) have written fairly extensively on the neolibertarian ideological framework. Briefly, however, a neolibertarian is a pragmatic, conservative libertarian.

Neolibertarianism differs from big-l Libertarianism (i.e. libertarians associated with the Libertarian Party & its party platform) in that it is hawkish on defense, supportive of strict border control, and pragmatic in its approach to effecting change in the American political system. Rather than espousing radical change, it's acceptable for a neolibertarian to act through the major political parties to affect change. To quote John Henke:

The libertarian ideal of a truly limited government is an utopian dream. In the real world, where powerful interests--individual and collective--compete for the reigns of power, there will be violations of the ideals libertarians hold. After all--as a result of their disavowal of power--libertarians are uniquely unqualified to defend their ideals against political opposition.

[...] Indeed, all the "standing athwart history, yelling 'stop!'" [a reference to National Review founder William F. Buckley Jr.] we can muster will not be enough to assuage the natural human desire to "vote themselves largesse out of the public treasury", or otherwise seek their own interests.

So, doctrinaire Libertarians are fighting an uphill battle against human nature. And they do so, precisely because they refuse to accept human nature as a part of their political calculation. Economics is the study of how humans allocate scarce resources. Politics is merely a social corollary to economics -- the study of the allocation of values.

As [neoconservative Irving] Kristol noted--and despite anything Benjamin Franklin may have noted about the trade-off--people will demand security, and they will sacrifice liberty to get it.
Perhaps most importantly, neolibertarianism lacks any sort of doctrinaire orthodoxy. There are plenty of grounds for disagreement and debate within the overarching framework of neolibertarianism. For example, I would be much more likely to stress the relevance and importance of preserving cultural norms while those whose heart is closer to a stricter brand of Libertarianism would find such a view abhorrent.

Members of the Libertarian Party wouldn't recognize a neolibertarian as being a libertarian at all (much as many conservatives, correctly, feel the same way about neoconservatives). Indeed, a neolibertarian is someone, like me, who has traditionally referred to themselves as a "libertarian leaning conservative." Its goals are limiting the size and power of the state, limiting encroachments on personal freedom and liberty, and promoting free trade and deregulation--all of these things where practicable.

Clearly, there are necessary encroachments on freedom and liberty necessary for security. Clearly there are overriding state interests, the protection of which will require regulation and trade restriction. Clearly foreign policy must be pursued rationally and aggressively. To quote Dale Franks:

"If the 1930s and 1940s taught us anything it should be that it is no longer possible for us to confine ourselves to our shores secure in immunity from attack. [As] tragic as it may be, sometimes foreigners are going to need to be killed, and I'd rather kill them over in Kaplokistan, than do so by sniping at them from the rubble of San Diego."
The next question you might ask is, what is the Neolibertarian Network? The answer, at least as of right now, is: not much. It's an association of thirteen likeminded blogs (so far) organized by QandO. The network serves as a central point for syndication feed aggregation, and they also plan to create a period publication.

A final question is, what sort of changes will inclusion in the NN mean for INCITE? The answer is: none. First of all, I'd like to point out that there are technically six writers here. Politically, some of them are more conservative than me on some issues, less on others. Goemagog delights in mocking big-l Libertarians. Answerman once wrote a post denouncing libertarians.

As I am the site owner, editor, and principle contributor to INCITE, I have no problem whatsoever with associating the site with my particular brand of conservatism; however, you should not take that to mean that neolibertarian ideals represent the specific views of every one of INCITE's writers. One of the goals (yet to materialize) of this site was to get a bunch of intelligent, conservative people with differing viewpoints together to foment discussion. Neolibertarianism is just my particular brand, and INCITE's inclusion in the NN shouldn't be interpreted in any other way.

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John Beck

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