Friday, January 7, 2011

Things I Didn't Realize Existed: A Tory Anarchist

Over at The League of Ordinary Gentlemen, whose bloggers seem to be all be libertarians of some sort or another, E.D. Kain has a fascinating interview with Daniel McCarthy, who has a blog at The American Conservative magazine's webpage called Tory Anarchist. He tries to explain what this label means in terms of what it's not:
“It’s very contradictory, but they’re two dispositions that aren’t liberalism…

Tory anarchism isn’t really an idea at all, just a intuition, but it’s meant to hint that tradition and authority are different from state power, and being right-wing doesn’t have to mean — and shouldn’t mean — being pious and meddlesome. It’s liberalism that’s damn near synonymous with the worst kind of piety and meddling.
Now, certainly, this is not exactly a philosophy that particularly appeals to me, but the whole discussion is very interesting. There's a bit of discussion of Edmund Burke, often described as the father of conservatism. I've been meaning to get around to reading up on Burke's ideas. I've got a late nineteenth century copy of Letter to a Noble Lord lying around here somewhere. In the interview, Kain and McCarthy mostly discuss Vindication, though, which I am thoroughly unfamiliar with.

They gloss over a number of different political philosophers in the discussion, which does get a good bit beyond my understanding of such things. I can't really even figure out whether they're praising or criticizing Murray Rothbard, who I understand to be an anarcho-capitalist. So I can't quite make out what differences there might be between anarcho-capitalism (which I was into for a bit many years ago) and Tory anarchism.

I'll give Daniel McCarthy the last word here. As much as I doubt Tory anarchism is a great idea, I do like to see ideas presented this honestly and intelligently.
“[T]he way to bring about economic decentralization is through political decentralization; otherwise you’re just going to have some D.C. or Wall Street mastermind’s grand plan for what economic pluralism should look like. Politics and economics are tangential categories, and each can have a destructive influence on the other. I suppose what I would argue for as a big picture is to reduce the influence of concentrated economic and political power and thereby increase the relative sway of cultural, non-utilitarian, and non-coercive institutions. Ultimately, I’m enough of a free marketeer that I think much freer markets are compatible with a much richer culture, but even apart from the way I’d like things to work out, simply getting some variety back into America’s political economy — or political economies — would be a great thing.”

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