Monday, March 31, 2014

"Tea Party libertarianism" in France

This item at Instapundit caught my eye: "CHANGE: Tea-party libertarianism sweeps … France?" Clicking through, I came to an item at Hotair, which in turn was an excerpt of a piece by Robert Zaretsky at Foreign Policy: "Je T'Aime, Ron Paul," subtitled "A wave of Tea Party libertarianism is sweeping France and upending Europe’s socialist stronghold." And, finally getting to the substance of it, I read the article and learned that this "wave of Tea Party libertarianism" is actually the hard-line anti-immigration policies of France's Front National (FN) and how these have influenced the mainstream right in that country.

A few years ago, I wrote an article called "How Did Libertarians Lose Their Way?" in which I lamented various trends within current-day libertarianism. One of these was the turn toward anti-immigration and anti-trade positions hard to reconcile with high-blown rhetoric about letting people live and trade as they want. I suggested that Ron Paul, Rand Paul and the Tea Party had a lot to do with injecting into libertarianism that crabbed, wary-of-the-world outlook. (Mind you, I am not an open-borders absolutist as some libertarians have been or, in a few academic/think tank circles, still are.)

Now it seems the transformation is complete. "Tea Party libertarianism" is, apparently by growing consensus, not just inclusive of but pretty much defined by a hard-line anti-immigration stance. Maybe Walter Russell Mead wasn't quite right when he asserted that the Tea Party is (contrary to what left-wing Europeans assume) very different from hard-right nationalist movements in Europe. Maybe it's not that different. In any case, libertarians at Cato or Reason or wherever some different vision of libertarianism is supposedly being upheld, ought to be extremely worried right now about what's happened to their ideological moniker.

UPDATE 10:13AM: I do notice, and take it as good news, that Instapundit commentors are not enamored of the Tea Party/National Front comparison.

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