Friday, April 01, 2005

BlogClip: Moral Hazards

Interesting thoughts from Jim Henley over at Unqualified Offerings [post-entry edit: see also The Poor Man on this article], especially with respect to the potential of the Democratic Party to remake itself as a libertarian political force.

Personally, I alternate between optimism (not irrational exuberance) and skepticism (not defeatism) on that general potential.

I see it this way:

- As Jim points out, the Democratic Party -- whatever else it may or may not do or become -- is "the only institutional tool to hand" where breaking what he calls "the torture state" is concerned. In the near term, it is unlikely that any other political organization can even think about bringing the resources and the sustained efforts to bear which are required to get the US out of Iraq ... and even then, we're probably talking about post-2008.

It's iffy. Sustained effort within the Democratic Party will be required to even get withdrawal from Iraq and a turn away from foreign military adventurism firmly onto the Democratic agenda, or to make it give high priority to those things or to any general restoration of civil liberties. And we can't expect action on those issues unless we can force them into the campaign platforms. Politicians are bad enough about breaking promises they make. Promises they don't make? Fuhgeddaboudit.

However, unless Yoda shows up to tell us that there's another, the Democrats are our only hope.

- Jim is also right in pointing out that, regardless of the neoconservative movement's role or rationale in taking the nation to war, the Republican base has wholeheartedly adopted jingoism, probably for the foreseeable future. If a black hole opened up and swallowed AEI while the entire staff of the Weekly Standard was touring its HQ, the GOP would not magically morph into a paleoconservative party. Mistuh Nock, he dead -- and the Old Right with him.

- As an anarchist, I'm used to thinking long-term. I don't think that the Democratic Party will be substantially a libertarian party in 2006, or 2008, or probably even in 2020. However, it is a more libertarian party than the GOP is right now in several significant respects, and there are enduring sentiments and trends within it that lend themselves to a transformation over time. And what the hell ... it's not any more of a longshot than the stateless society, or the Libertarian Party getting its act together and actually accomplishing something, is it?

- In the shorter term, there's plenty of work to do on "the little things" -- lobbying for and against legislation at the state level, building a libertarian presence on the Left and gaining the influence necessary to effect the transformation desired. That's what I'm trying to help accomplish with my involvement in the Democratic Freedom Caucus, nationally and in Missouri.

Movements need fertile soil in which to grow. The soil in which a libertarian movement can most realistically hope to take root is on the Left. They're looking for "new" ideas, while the Right is caught up in admiring the apparent success of, and attempting to advance on the strength of, its present agenda.

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