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wWednesday, April 14, 2004


YES, VIRGINIA: In my guest column for the Canadian monthly The Interim, I have something to offend everyone: Catholic theologians, libertarians, even Virginia Postrel. Mark Shea linked it, saying:

He doesn't like my characterization of libertarianism as a philosophy for people with no children. Oh well, he's entitled to his opinion.

Uh, my objection was to his blanket condemnation of libertarianism as an ideology for "selfish people with no kids." I mean, sure, I probably fit the insult but that doesn't mean that all -- or even most -- libertarians do. A taste:

Catholic journalist and apologist Mark Shea is a good acquaintance, really, but when he gets a bug in his bonnet, the results are rarely pleasant. Lately, on his immensely popular website, he's taken to railing against the "blasphemous individualism" of libertarianism - an ideology for "selfish people with no kids."

When readers of a laissez faire bent protested the generalization by pointing out that they give to charity and … have children, he called them "inconsistent libertarians" and denounced their ideology as a "photo negative of Stalinism and communism:" one imposes a crushing obligation to the state, the other to the self. Shea then demonstrated what some might consider a troubling familiarity with the demonic by explaining that old Scratch "always sends lies into the world in pairs so that, fleeing one, we might embrace the other."

I relate this here not to mock Shea, but to demonstrate what I'm up against. I'm to both explain and defend the phenomenon of pro-life libertarianism, more popular south of the 49th parallel, but surely not unheard in the nation of the big red leaf. Some readers will think it an oxymoronic idea and dismiss it out of hand. How can an ideology which defends selfishness also defend the unborn? How can the bastard stepchild of anarchism promote moral norms? [more]

posted by Jeremy at 3:59 PM