Saturday, January 19, 2008

We can Wirk it out

Check out Wirkman on the "paleos." Good stuff -- makes more sense out of the whole thing.

I also identify with his background perspective. Sez Wirkman:

I have never thought of myself as a conservative. When I was young, I thought I was a liberal ... right up until the moment I realized that modern liberals exhibited hardly the slightest interest in freedom. At least, the liberals I knew showed little support for liberty in the areas where they had proved that governments could grow and organize and tax and spend and regulate and prohibit and subsidize.

Bingo. I don't remember the exact date that I ceased being a (modern/Wilsonian/FDRian) "liberal" (actually, a little to the left of that) but I remember the exact context. It was some time between November of 1988 (when I cheerfully cast my first-ever vote in a presidential election, for Michael Dukakis) and September of 1990 (when I sat in a chair in a hospital room reading Atlas Shrugged while awaiting the birth of my daughter).

One day I was sitting around the house reading the Greenpeace magazine (yes, I was a member of Greenpeace). The article was about some kind of environmental outrage in Africa, and how there was a solution that seemed to be working, but which we must not trust in because it was ... well, a market solution, involving private companies rather than Greenpeace-approved bureaucrats. Something had to be done to get control of the situation. And at that very moment I thought to myself "this isn't about the environment. These bastards would burn that village to the ground and sow DDT in the earth where it once stood before they withdrew their claim to power over it."

I'd like to report that as my libertarian "on the road to Damascus" moment, but it wasn't. In exploring the political landscape, I worked my way from the Greenpeace Magazine Moment through William F. Buckley's Up From Liberalism, to an instant when I informed a Democratic canvasser that I was "to the right of Pat Buchanan," to a brief flirt with the Perot phenomenon and, as described elsewhere on this blog, back through the "paleoconservative" fad to libertarianism (with a lot of help, btw, from Liberty, the magazine that Wirkman Virkkala was working for at the time).

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