The Shotgun Blog
Thursday, April 30, 2009
The Night the Prime Minister Purged Libertarians from Canadian Conservatism
Terence Corcoran has written on the speech Harper delivered at the Manning Centre conference in March. Shotgun bloggers have covered this multiple times, and it's nice to have Corcoran weighing in as well. From the column:
What followed was Mr. Harper’s conscious rebuke of libertarianism. In fact, more words were spent undermining libertarians than Liberals. Libertarians, he said, “believe that the solution to all problems lays in less government. More specifically, they believe in individual freedom, freedom from government, the freedom that does in fact underlie the market economy.”
The essence of Mr. Harper’s conservatism is that it is a happy middle ground between two undesirable extremes, the small-government push of libertarianism and the big-government push of Liberalism. This middle ground is based on “conservative values,” which he defined by the three “Fs” — freedom, faith and family. Freedom, he said, can only exist if it is “used well,” as if to achieve public good.
Mr. Harper’s attempt to purge libertarians from Canadian conservatism reached its lowest point when he pretty much blamed libertarianism for the economic crisis. Wall Street, he implied mockingly, was the heart of libertarianism, and Wall Street and the libertarian free market tanked the economy.
... As if Wall Street bankers were libertarians. Worse, as if Wall Street bankers were libertarians who deserved to have their banks nationalized and their compensation controlled by government.
Do libertarians pose some kind of threat to the Harper Conservatives? Apparently they do, judging by Mr. Harper’s attempt to eliminate them from the party. And he might be right.
Obviously libertarians (and fiscal conservatives, who had as much of a right to be upset as libertarians, imho) got the message. There was outrage all 'round.
Partisan Tories, though, often wonder how we could think Harper would think anything different. It's not as though we're talking about a guy who's ever said that, say, "all taxes are bad," or "I'm very libertarian in the sense that I believe in small government and, as a general rule, I don't believe in imposing values upon people."
Stephen Harper knew better and still knows better than the nonsense he was spewing at the Manning Centre conference. I have an awfully hard time believing he will ever find redemption from those he denounced in that speech, and I don't think he would deserve it if he did.
Posted by Janet Neilson on April 30, 2009 | Permalink
You're not a conservative, or a Conservative, so your analysis is self serving and of little value. Libertarians are, in fact, ridiculous and they do, in fact, deserve criticism; don't be such a crybaby about it, you're not special. Terrence Corcoran is not a conservative, or principled, he is a politically correct culturally Marxist MSM hack. It's not exactly a newsflash when a Toronto columnist slags Harper.
We don't want, or need, fraggers and saboteurs inside the tent, you do more harm than good. We loathe you nearly as much as you loathe us. Embrace your true nature and join the Liberals.
That raises a question: why do you not criticize the Liberal Party of Canada? Ignatieff says we need to raise taxes - no reaction from the WS gang? OK, that's a tacit agreement and support of Iggy's tax and spend agenda.
Posted by: Your Better | 2009-04-30 10:39:28 AM
This middle ground is based on “conservative values,” which he defined by the three “Fs” — freedom, faith and family. Freedom, he said, can only exist if it is “used well,” as if to achieve public good.
Interesting. Link Byfield gave a speech to an Objectivist club I ran on campus some years ago in which he argued that "You have the freedom to do what you ought to do." The statement has bothered me ever since, as much as I like Link.
Neither Harper nor Byfield seem to appreciate that freedom should be constrained only by the equal rights of others and the principle of non-aggression toward non-aggressors. Freedom doesn't have to be "used well," it only has to be used peacefully.
Freedom to do only what Harper and Byfield think one ought to do is not freedom at all.
By the way, are you sure Corcoran is not a libertarian? I don't think I've ever disagreed with a word he's written.
Posted by: Matthew Johnston | 2009-04-30 10:40:39 AM
No "Your Better" - it has to do with Harper not following the mandate he was given and the direction from the Winnipeg Convention.
And BTW noone takes Iggy seriously. The real battle will be with Trudeau.
Posted by: The LS from Sk | 2009-04-30 10:44:24 AM
Maybe libertarians who thought that participating in the rigged, archaic, violence-based system we know as 'democracy' will now concentrate their efforts in eliminating the system, not trying vainly and fruitlessly to participate in it; and in doing so, implicitly support aggression.
It just seems to be illogical that a libertarian would want electoral success to then dictate their beliefs to others. Maybe some people feel 'secure' in a statist system. Who are we to stop that? We just want to not be disturbed. Maybe the key to success, is convincing everyone that they can live as they want, as opposed to the existing system where 60+% of the electorate is always disenfranchised by the fact 'their' party isn't in power?
Instead of supporting a particular set of 'policy goals', maybe a tactic of convincing everyone they can have the utopia they want in a new, non-aggression based system is the way to go.
Socialist can have their collectivist utopia. Conservatives can have their low taxes while having their morals dictated to from above. If Liberals could ever come up with a set of goals that are something besides holding power, well, they could have that too.
Ending territorial monopolies would make everyone happy.
Posted by: Frank Gas | 2009-04-30 11:24:27 AM
"That raises a question: why do you not criticize the Liberal Party of Canada?" Your Better
Because they are unimportant to most of us in the freedom movement. I pay virtually no attention to what the Liberty party is up to.
Holding Harper's feet to the fire might actually yield a positive result. Holding a fire to the Liberals will only cause these plastic people to melt.
Posted by: Matthew Johnston | 2009-04-30 11:25:09 AM
Matthew - I'm not sure why I thought he wasn't, but I removed that part of the post since I can't remember where I'd heard it.
Posted by: Janet | 2009-04-30 11:28:55 AM
Hey, YB - check this out:
"You're not a libertarian, or a Libertarian, so your analysis is self serving and of little value. Conservatives are, in fact, ridiculous and they do, in fact, deserve criticism; don't be such a crybaby about it, you're not special."
You see what I did there? That's why you haven't hurt any feelings. I'm more than happy to address and debate criticisms of libertarian thought, but neither you nor Harper have offered any.
(To be clear: Although I disagree with a lot of conservatives on a lot of issues, I don't think they're ridiculous. I do think that Conservatives who have a near coronary whenever someone says something negative about Harper or his performance are a tad ridiculous, but by switching "libertarian" and "conservative" above, I was just making a point, not making any attacks on the more reasonable Tories or conservatives out there.)
Posted by: Janet | 2009-04-30 11:42:51 AM
"Holding Harper's feet to the fire might actually yield a positive result. Holding a fire to the Liberals will only cause these plastic people to melt."
OK, but you do the reverse provincially, the gang here is nearly obsessed with the Ontario PCs, and give McGuinty's Liberals a free pass, even praising him when he introduces huge tax increases and a massive deficit budget. Enza Supermodel has a better chance of being next premier than whoever wins the PC leadership, they won't win power again for a very long time if at all, the demographics are horrible for them.
You have to admit I've got a point here.
Posted by: Your Better | 2009-04-30 11:51:14 AM
To "Your Better", the Shotgun bloggers don't talk about the Liberal party because the don't and most of the readers don't vote for them, and they're not (yet) in power. So that would be as pointless as discussing a Green Party love in at a bong factory.
The simple fact is the Winipeg convention for the CPC gave Harper very libertarian directives and he and his goons aren't doing what the party asked.
Shockingly, they're representing the political ideals of the MAJORITY of Canadians, not just the Conservative party. Some would say this is a sellout tactic to garner votes. I'd call it a representative representing the people he's paid to represent. Most Canadians ARE middle ground compromises who do feel more secure with a statist blanket to keep them warm and social programs to ensure their local library (which they never visit) has enough art to stimulate all the children they don't send there.
Posted by: Pete | 2009-04-30 11:55:03 AM
Corcoran is a libertarian.
Posted by: Robert Seymour | 2009-04-30 11:55:48 AM
Though I agree completely:
"It just seems to be illogical that a libertarian would want electoral success to then dictate their beliefs to others."
The point isn't to dictate beliefs to others, the point of electoral success would be to remove regulations, etc which prevent people from living as they want instead of having 60%+ of people being disenfranchised.
Posted by: K Stricker | 2009-04-30 12:33:00 PM
I think there are plenty of reasonable ways to criticize us at the Western Standard. But saying things that are not true is not one of those ways, Your Better. None of us supported the McGuinty budget. Not one. None of us voted for the Liberals. Not one. None of us have ever supported the Liberals (saying that this or that policy is not bad is not the same as throwing support behind a party).
Also, be more civil, please.
Posted by: P.M. Jaworski | 2009-04-30 1:03:44 PM
Since Harper has kicked out all the Llibertarians from the Conservative Party, Llibertarian Party votes should double! From 50 to 100!
Posted by: epsilon | 2009-04-30 1:26:53 PM
The number of libertarians has nothing to do with being right. The fact is, it is the very system that conservatives espouse that caused this mess in the first place. Unless you're a banker and/or on Wall Street, you are getting screwed. Time to wake up.
Posted by: Charles | 2009-04-30 1:33:38 PM
"Also, be more civil, please."
This is the nastiest, meanest blog I've encountered in some time. You are vicious towards conservatives...and you are asking me to be civil? Buddy, you are attacking my wallet, I will respond however I wish, and you you want to get Clausewitzian, let's do this.
"not one of us supported the McGuinty budget. Not one. "
Janet's review of it was mostly positive and extremely dishonest. That's support.
Your lack of criticism of a horrible McGuinty budget and government is tacit support. Same with the federal Liberals.
Had you actually criticized McGuinty and his budget, we wouldn't be having this conversation, now would we? You'll just have to live with the consequences of your actions, or lack thereof.
The Western Standard supports the Liberal parties of Canada and Ontario. That is a factually accurate statement based on an enormous amount of evidence over many months.
Posted by: Your Better | 2009-04-30 2:07:55 PM
Oh, YB. I'm going to lose sleep over your extrapolation of my views, I really will. Maybe I can console myself by spending all night cuddling my giant cuddly plush McGuinty doll.
Everyone who thinks that tax cuts and harmonized sales taxes are a positive addition to a budget has one, didn't you know? If you need one now that you do, let me know. As should be obvious to you, I order them in bulk.
Posted by: Janet | 2009-04-30 4:28:36 PM
Geez "Your Better" is kind of a rabid thing isn't she? Oh well, I guess even socialists are entitled to an opinion, even if it is stupid, misguided and full of propoganda trash...
Posted by: JC | 2009-04-30 5:49:09 PM
Sure glad I cancelled my subscription to the Western Standard. At one time, they published excellent, well-researched articles, designed to inform Canadians about issues. To be reduced to name-calling, petty insults reminds me of parliament. It is so discouraging. Be part of the solution -- spend more time thinking how you would make things better!
Posted by: Janet Webb | 2009-05-01 1:00:00 AM
The Harpercrite and religious fundamentalist followers are the greatest threat to Liberty that Canada has ever faced. He wants to be our daddy, not our prime minister. The best thing that could happen to Canada would be to send these bible thumpers packin!
Posted by: DrGreenthumb | 2009-05-01 9:18:07 AM
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