This type of yearning for the America of the Robber Barons has little to offer most women (who might not want to return to a world where they couldn’t vote and had severely restricted social lives) or for that matter most non-whites (who might recall Jim Crow segregation). As Brian Doherty notes, “American blacks or women … might find libertarian complaints about government growth silly. Most of them certainly feel freer in many important ways than they would have in the nineteenth century.”Ann Althouse:
To put it very plainly and simply, to me, the libertarians lacked humanity and they were using their pride in their commitment to abstract ideas to resist examining the reasons why they liked the ideas they were wedded to. I think people like that would be very dangerous if they had political power. Intellectually, as people to converse with, I found them cold and rigid, not interested in talking about anything on the level that I am seeking, and creepily eager to insult me for being on the wrong level.Kevin Drum:
Jeet Heer investigates a burning question today: why are most libertarians men? He offers several plausible explanations, but I think he misses the real one, perhaps because it's pretty unflattering to libertarians.It's not a great argument, I will suggest. The argument can be pointed equally at any political philosophy that draws inspiration from any past era. But the past is the only place from which we can draw concrete examples to criticize the present approach. We can imagine the future, but we have no way to know if our imaginations of what the future might be like are just moonshine. The past really happened. The cases aren't exactly like our present cases, but they offer concrete analogies that can help us see where we are going wrong, or where we might do better.
So here's the quick answer: hard core libertarianism is a fantasy. It's a fantasy where the strongest and most self-reliant folks end up at the top of the heap, and a fair number of men share the fantasy that they are these folks. They believe they've been held back by rules and regulations designed to help the weak, and in a libertarian culture their talents would be obvious and they'd naturally rise to positions of power and influence.... Few women share this fantasy. I don't know why, and I don't really want to play amateur sociologist and guess. Perhaps it's something as simple as the plain observation that in the more libertarian past, women were subjugated to men almost completely.
Althouse aside -- she's arguing ad hominem against men she really didn't like -- these arguments are rooted in a frame whose purpose is to prevent concrete criticism of the current governing approach. That's no surprise: these are all supporters of the party in power, of the governing President, and of the philosophy he embraces. The sneering at a philosophy because it draws its examples from an imperfect past is really an attempt to disable a whole line of criticism of the present.