I was called out not too long ago on Twitter for including Libertarians as a category of Conservatives (actually, what @Crommunist said was that Libertarian wasn’t “a good synonym” for Conservatism, but of course I hadn’t actually used it as a synonym.) I didn’t respond at that time or in that medium because the moment had passed and because I’m bad at Twitter.
So I’d like to try to clear up why I think of Libertarians as a kind of Conservative.
In theory, there’s a difference between a Libertarian and what we in the United States call a Conservative. What we call Conservatives are nothing of the sort, but that’s a different conversation altogether.
In theory, at least, a Libertarian is basically a Liberal who doesn’t understand economics: They’re all for liberty, equality, and fraternity, but they just don’t know how we’re supposed to pay for all of this.
And there are, so the joke goes, exactly three honest Libertarians out there….somewhere.
In practice, real-world Libertarians are a wing of movement conservatism. Particularly, they’re the wing that seeks to recruit people who aren’t ready to panic at the impending loss of their demographic dominance, who aren’t enthusiastic about freedombombing far away brown people, but for whom a working understanding of the functioning of real-world economies is a bridge too far.
Billing themselves as “fiscally responsible,” they focus on the economic end of the movement conservative message: There’s nothing wrong with the large and growing gap between the rich and poor and in any case, attempts at corrective action by the government are not only ineffective and wasteful but ultimately immoral. In candid moments, they will occasionally admit that they want to dismantle the mass of programs we call “welfare” or the “social safety net:” Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, TANF, SNAP, and so on.
This fiscal fundamentalism is ultimately incompatible with any quest for equality. Money is power, and where a large money differential exists, there too is a large power differential. In a society as stratified as ours, the poor are also the voiceless, the invisible, and the powerless. And so something must give.
A typical Libertarian’s fiscal dogma is far more unyielding than his social positions, so while Libertarians don’t think the government should be hassling them for smoking pot, they’ll cheerfully vote for the most odious specimen of right-wing social nastiness so long as he promises to balance the budget on the backs of the poor.
Indeed, the now almost universally reviled Tea Party — the party-within-a-party that rides the Republicans like a brain parasite and controls their behavior by perpetually running to the right of whoever the Establishment fields — has its foundations in this pop-political Libertarianism.
So I reiterate that it is in no sense surprising that Libertarian-leaning (and therefore right-leaning) members of the gamer and atheoskeptic blagotubes are using conservative-born anti-woman memes in attacking women.