Monday, March 28, 2011

How Libertarians are Different

So every once in a while, I like to reread my college books.  One that I just started to reread is Moral Politics : How Liberals and Conservatives Think.  It's interesting, because now with my own political views more shaped, even just from the introductory chapter, a lot makes sense.

The basic premise of the book explains why both of the major parties are so similar on so many major issues, and why their basic philosophical stances are so similar.  It also explains why the Libertarian party is so different from the Republicans and Democrats.

The basic premise of the book is that our political thoughts are shaped by a series of metaphors based on morality, and, particularly, family morality.  According to the author, Republicans believe in a strict father family model, and the Democrats believe in a nurturing parent model.  Nevermind the obvious bias in implying that the Republican view is inherently more sexist than the Democratic view.

The key is that both of these thoughts are based on the premise of our nation as a child, and the government as its parent.  This view, according to Libertarians is flawed.  We are not one child.  We are a collection of millions of individual adults.  Who should be free to make our own decisions without being concerned about what our government thinks.  Moreover, as the author of the book points out, the words for parents have multiple connotations.  One is the figure that raises and nurtures a child, another is the genetic figure.

This last explanation provides further support to the idea that the Republican and Democratic models are fundamentally flawed. Our government did not sire, birth, parent, or otherwise create us.  We created it.  If anything, we should be the strict father or nurturing parent to our government, not the other way around.

The alarming part of my thoughts on this book as it relates to Libertarianism is that it also explains why we will probably never be as successful as the major parties have been in mainstream politics.  The author of the book is not a political scientist, but a cognitive linguist.  This field concerns itself with explaining the basic functioning of the human mind.  The author's argument is that everything we do, think, and say, is based in a metaphorical relationship between that action or thought (in this case politics), our moral values, and our experiential well-being.

The concerning part is that even if we can recognize that the Libertarian view is more emotionally detached, logical, and reason-based than the major political systems, this is not how an election is won.  The metaphorical and emotional ties are what win votes.

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