It’s Time to Rethink Fusionism
Two weeks ago, I wrote not one, but two posts about how conservatives had basically foisted Obamacare upon the populace. About how conservatives wanted libertarians to join them again, and vote for a conservative…who wrote Obamacare. About how conservatives had lost any sense they principles they had.
This is an addendum.
Since the end of World War II, libertarians and conservatives have been allied in a loose coalition known as “fusionism.” The idea was that, as communism and social “democracy” was on the rise, anyone who believed in free markets had to ban together, at the expense of other ideas. It originally began with Frank S. Meyer, an American philosopher, who believed that libertarian free market concepts worked hand in hand with conservative traditionalism.
However, it has become clear to me, and to growing numbers of libertarians, that this is false. That the entire fusionist experiment was really born out of necessity, not principled ideology, as a way to survive the Cold War. And especially the last few years have shown, the conservative “movement” has come utterly unhinged.
The birthers. The Kenyan anti-colonialist crap. The accusations our president is a secret Muslim. The now ludicrous defenses of bigotry against homosexuals, transgendered, and those who do not believe. And then there is the vehement and heated arguments against spending…but on the same front, conservatives themselves spend and spend and spend. They just want to spend a tad less than liberals.
And now, with the upholding of Obamacare, created in the Heritage Foundation (essentially the Republican Party’s policy shop), we have yet another instance of conservatives enlarging government power at the expense of liberty—which their rhetoric always claims to cherish.
There are fundamental, irreconcilable differences between the classical liberalism that is the heart and soul of libertarianism, and the stodgy old traditionalism that is the core of conservatism. I’ve already questioned the core of American conservatism, that old stand-by, “ordered liberty,” and now I am questioning the libertarian’s alliance with the conservative. What is there to be gained?
It’s time for this to end. Libertarianism may not be the number one ideology in America, but it is growing. You may have seen the AP story on libertarianism that seems to be “going viral” as Students for Liberty put it. Four-fifths of the country is upset with the way we’re being governed, and roughly half or more see big government as a direct threat to our way of life and want it to back off.
When you see this trend, you realize pretty quickly that stodgy old conservatism, dedicated to restoring America to a social vision that somewhat existed in the 1950s (though in reality never existed) and dedicated to preserving corporate power at the expense of individuals while covering for free market rhetoric, is just one giant albatross. One reason why libertarians had so much difficulty getting traction is because they became associated with people like George W. Bush, who used free market rhetoric to cover for his plutocratic/corporatist BS. That may have done irreparable damage to the cause of liberty, and even if it hasn’t, it has pushed back the goal by who knows how long.
It’s time to end this fusionism nonsense. Nothing has ever been gained by having libertarians—those focused on individual liberty—align with conservatives—those focused on imposing their own notions upon everybody else. This doesn’t mean we can’t have ad hoc alliances with conservatives (and left-wing “liberals”) but it does mean we have to be ourselves, with our own branding. We can’t be “libertarian conservatives” anymore. We can’t be seen as a “wing” of the conservative movement.
Libertarianism is libertarianism, plain and simple. It’s time to start acting like it.