The writer at the Individualist has responded to my response. It is a lengthy post, but I want to focus on his final point, because it really gets to the heart of the disagreement between us (bold emphasis added).
You don’t want libertarianism. Not really. It is no more than a vehicle for you; a means to a conservative end. You don’t cherish liberty. Not really. It is no more than a means to a conservative end. Not an end in itself. Not a value in itself. Would be that the state gave you exactly the conservative society you clamor for, you would worship the state.
Come out of the closet already.
That is a rather strange accusation to make. Of course libertarianism is a means to an end to me, as it should be for anyone. It is a political philosophy concerned with the appropriate use of force, not a religion. Being free for the sake of being free is an incredibly nihilistic way of looking at meaning and purpose in life.
Liberty is the highest political end, but it is not the highest end.
This is precisely what Gerard Casey explained in his book Libertarian Anarchy (bold emphasis added)
It is important to realize that libertarianism is not, nor is it intended to be, a complete moral theory. Much confusion will be prevented and many possible objections can be summarily deflected if this point is appreciated.
A society built solely on libertarian principles would be just but there can be few libertarians who would see the libertarian principle as the end of a complete human life and not just as the minimal preconditions for such a life.
This view of the philosophy was also shared by Murray Rothbard (bold emphasis added):
The fact is that libertarianism is not and does not pretend to be a complete moral or aesthetic theory; it is only a political theory, that is, the important subset of moral theory that deals with the proper role of violence in social life.
It should not be surprising, therefore, that there are libertarians who are indeed hedonists and devotees of alternative lifestyles, and that there are also libertarians who are firm adherents of “bourgeois” conventional or religious morality. There are libertarian libertines and there are libertarians who cleave firmly to the disciplines of natural or religious law. There are other libertarians who have no moral theory at all apart from the imperative of non-violation of rights. That is because libertarianism per se has no general or personal moral theory.
Libertarianism does not offer a way of life; it offers liberty, so that each person is free to adopt and act upon his own values and moral principles. Libertarians agree with Lord Acton that “liberty is the highest political end” — not necessarily the highest end on everyone’s personal scale of values.
As I said before, libertarians don’t have to champion anything outside of the NAP to be a libertarian, nor do they have to like anything valued by other libertarians. In fact, they can hate and despise beliefs held by other libertarians to their heart’s content, so much so they don’t want to even associate with them.
But that isn’t the debate at hand. The question has to do with political relevancy and, more importantly, what type of society complements libertarianism the best.
Deist observed what should be self-evident – a libertarian society would theoretically “allow” any lifestyle, but practically speaking any society that adopted it would naturally curtail certain behaviors and encourage others – or die out. Those who hold these values will find the most appeal in libertarianism, because it offers the best means to the ends they want.
As Jude Blanchette writes (bold emphasis added)
F.A. Hayek stated that one of the gravest errors of contemporary juridical opinion was to assume that all “laws” arise out of legislation. In fact, proper legislation simply codified laws that were preexistent. Societal laws (be they customs, mores, dress codes, cultural conformity) are the private sector’s method of regulating behavior. They act as voluntary surrogates to state compulsion.
Libertarians like Mises got this—they understood that the voluntary society has a way of weeding out aberrant behavior. Far from being the playground of licentiousness, the liberal commonwealth breeds an atmosphere in which tolerance and diversity are balanced with values and mores.
The idea that libertarianism should or will be equally as appealing to those who prefer a variety of vice-based lifestyles as much as conservative ones, or that a stateless society would value all lifestyles equally, is the result of thinking strictly within the theoretical realm.
So to return to the Individualist’s final point:
Would be that the state gave you exactly the conservative society you clamor for, you would worship the state.
Come out of the closet already.
Perhaps I best be rehearsing my Butters-style government prayer of exaltation in anticipation of that glorious day.
All joking aside, were a “conservative society” be implemented via the state tomorrow that today has rammed the Progressive agenda down our throats, I’d be as grateful to them as I am for the roads it currently “gives” me as part of its monopoly: They’re full of potholes, costly to maintain, inefficient use of my money, and poorly managed – but since they’re the only ones available and usable, I drive on them.
That doesn’t mean I want the government operating them or that they’re the best one for the job. My use is not an endorsement anymore than paying taxes means I consented to them.
I’d have better roads without the state, and I’d have a better, more conservative society without the state, too. Any “conservative society” it gives me would be substandard to the one created in a stateless environment.
I want libertarianism, but not for it’s own sake. Like most people in the world, I have higher ends I would see achieved both in my own life and in the world around me.
To borrow the “closet” analogy, those who might do well to come out are libertarians content or determined to keep the philosophy and its adherents “in the closet” to collect dust by rendering it powerless to achieve any of its goals, ineffective in reaching the average person who might embrace it, and irrelevant within the discussion of how to achieve legitimate higher ends people seek – for reasons one can only speculate.