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More on Fusionism

May 19th, 2003 · No Comments

Antle has written a thoughtful response to the post on the conservative/libertarian coalition below. There’s little to disagree with there—in part because I seem to have misread him in places the last time around—though I did note the following:

Is the tension between libertarians and conservative really worse than it was during the height of the sexual revolution, the Vietnam war, the draft and the legalization of contraception and abortion?

The point is supposed to be that the coalition has persisted despite these disagreements. But it’s worth recalling that libertarianism as a really distinct movement was precipitated by the “purge” of the libertarians from Young Americans for Freedom over the Vietnam War. And you found folks like Rothbard and Karl Hess working with the new left as much as the old right in the early 70s. So it’s not inconceivable that something like that might happen again if the main issues of political debate are things like foreign policy and stem cell technologies. Even on economic issues, you’re finding some realignment, as a united Republican administration proves patently uncommitted to its own former rhetoric of limited government—witness this op-ed co-written by Cato’s Ed Crane and the Sierra Club’s Carl Pope.

Certainly, I don’t mean to deny that ad hoc collaboration on narrow issues will continue, but I think that increasingly we’ll find that it’s only that: instead of a “right” marked by internal schisms, libertarians really will begin to act as a “third way,” not particularly aligned with left or right, and working with one or the other in roughly equal measure, as circumstances merit.

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