A Libertarian Case for Social Conservatism
By: David Bozeman
So little space for such a deep, wide premise. Nonetheless, given America’s descent into European-style socialism, even a cursory consideration of the disease (as opposed to the symptoms, which garner all the attention) hastening our downfall could shed some much-needed light.
President Obama is banking his re-election, in part, on the support of a disparate assortment of groups, among them, gay Americans, Americans under 30 and single women, none of which are bound to so-called traditional values. Nothing here is meant to disparage anyone individually or to blame the aforementioned Americans for our societal problems. Still, at the very least, it bears pondering, what is the impact on the world at large of our deepest values and most intimate behavior? Obamacare, the entitlement mentality and a quasi-socialist economy did not mysteriously infect the freest nation on earth from without, they were bred within. Furthermore, examining social conservatism does not mean enduring a Pat Robertson sermon on Hollywood smut and loose women. An equally compelling strain of social conservatism was championed in the 1970s by economist and author George Gilder. Sadly, in recent years, he has turned to such less passionate (though no less vital) topics as micro-economics, the tech revolution and foreign policy.
His earlier writings, including such volumes as Naked Nomads and Sexual Suicide (later released as Men And Marriage) speak to the social consequences of the Playboy Philosophy lived out beyond L.A., in Scranton PA and Raeford NC. In a nutshell, concepts such as freedom and capitalism are nurtured and transmitted within traditional families. A primary responsibility of fathers is to teach boys, by tone and example, commitment, independence and maturity.
Unlimited sexual license, by contrast, breeds delayed adolescence and a soft, porous society, easy prey to the seductions of nanny-state bureaucrats and sugar-daddy federal providers. The shackles of conventional morality have not been shaken, they have merely been traded for the bondage of a decadent, free-wheeling, you-have-no-right-to-judge world. As G.K. Chesterton said of God, once you throw out conventional morality, it’s not that you believe in nothing, you believe in anything.
Meanwhile, some conservatives and libertarians toss around such words and phrases as ‘capitalism,’ ’free-enterprise’ and ‘individual liberty’ as if these concepts are untethered to any traditional or familial foundations. Consider the stark, childless utopias of Ayn Rand novels. John Galt, Howard Roark (and their real-life counterparts) likely learned responsibility and independence from their fathers, of which the very idea today, in a do-as-you-please, love-is-all-you-need America, is quaint, outmoded and, to some, downright oppressive. But, in the view of Gilder, monogamy doesn’t just transmit love to a wife and family, it transmits civilization to the next generation.
It is not that Americans are not hardworking and ambitious. We are, in fact, unrivaled. But when a society signals its acceptance, by way of entertainment and convention, of perpetual adolescence (check out TV Land’s Retired at 35 and the talking teddy bear flick Ted) and unlimited ‘alternative’ lifestyles. it will ultimately find a lethargic people susceptible to charismatic community organizers and cradle-to-grave sustenance. Indeed, if one were to blame our national entitlement mentality on anyone, Barack Obama, Nancy Pelosi and Ted Kennedy could easily top the list, but so could Larry Flynt, Cosmopolitan magazine and MTV (to cite but a few examples).
Granted, it is a stretch to tie televised porn and Teen Mom (MTV’s hit reality show) repeats to big government, big debt, etc., but the overriding point is that our personal behavior resonates, like the proverbial ripple, far beyond ourselves. Post-modern thought has taught us that, at least in terms of lifestyle and sexual proclivities, we must adopt the laissez-faire approach explicitly denied to smokers, oil company execs and bake-sale organizers. Even traditional social conservatives take cover behind the notion that they have a right to criticize behavior only as long as it adversely affects society. Nonsense. One does not need to advocate a theocratic dictatorship to offer wisdom and guidance, particularly to our young and most vulnerable. And while we are free to indulge our instincts for momentary titillation and hedonism, a free society endures by reaffirming the nobler aspects of human nature. Committing to love and fidelity conveys the concepts of risk, responsibility and adulthood to future generations, but the values we cherish are not attained instinctively, they demand to be named, valued and celebrated.