Thursday, May 26, 2011

Talkin' 'Bout My Generation's Conservatives (and Libertarians)

Mark "Catholic and Enjoying It" Shea links an article by Joe Carter of the neocon journal First Things on "those of us who grew up to be culturally and politically conservative" — X-Cons: The Conservative Mind of Generation X.

I, too, was "born convinced that the world would end in a nuclear holocaust," but the experience radicalized me. I find myself more and more like Old Rightist Frank Chodorov, who said, "I will punch anyone who calls me a conservative in the nose. I am a radical." Thus, this paragraph interested me most:
    X-Cons are often Goldwater-style conservatives, holding views that are more individualistic than aligned with historical conservatism. We also tend to have many cafeteria libertarians, those who pick and choose from the buffet of libertarian ideology. X-Cons may, for example, be in favor of the decriminalization of marijuana while opposing the legalization of prostitution. The libertarians in our cohort tend to be less pure than those that came before or after.
Now that I know that I am a "cafeteria libertarian," I am perfectly happy to be "less pure than those that came before or after." I'd say the best statement of my generation's outlook comes from one of our contemporaries mentioned in Rod Dreher's seminal article, Birkenstocked Burkeans, who said, "I went straight from left wing to right wing without ever once passing through a phase where I trusted the government."

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Blogger Mark in Spokane said...

I'm proud to call myself a conservative.

My question for you: how do you reconcile cafeteria libertarianism with Catholic social teaching? Catholicism posits a limited but positive view of the State and its necessary role in human life as we seek to achieve the common good as we live together in civil society. For me, the libertarian question isn't simply a question of political philosophy but also of social theology.

11:59 AM  
Blogger The Western Confucian said...

Good question. I'll have a better answer after I read The Political Philosophy of Thomas Aquinas, which is next on my reading a list.

Cafeteria libertarianism, of course, allows one to pick and choose, but I think a more important consideration, when it comes to CST, is Albert Jay Nock's distinction between social and state power. America is not a Catholic country, so Catholics especially should be wary of state power.

2:40 PM  

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