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This is the conclusion of a three part essay on conservatism, liberalism, and their relationship to NeoPagan spirituality. Part I described what liberalism and conservatism have been historically and philosophically and argued there is considerable truth in both views. Part II explored their relationship to Christian and Pagan spirituality and how Pagan insights enabled us better to understand their competitive but ultimately symbiotic relationship.  Now, Part III examines why neither, but especially conservatism, resembles what they have been historically and why those Pagan insights are so critically important to everyone today.

           The argument is more complex than the preceding two, but I hope you will bear with me. I am happy to elaborate points that seem undeveloped in the discussion to follow. Exceptions exist to much of what I am arguing, my larger argument is that the exceptions are minor themes today.

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  • Gus diZerega
    Gus diZerega says #
    They will empower me to eliminate your nastiness and rudeness from this blog, probably Monday. Had you any integrity you would no
  • Gus diZerega
    Gus diZerega says #
    I have asked that you be banned from this blog.
  • Greybeard
    Greybeard says #
    Of course you did. Liberal talking points and insults can't tolerate contradictory opinions. Its all "good" only when inside a v
  • Greybeard
    Greybeard says #
    Yawn... Same old tired leftist manure.... different day.
  • Gus diZerega
    Gus diZerega says #
    Reading comprehension problems as usual Greybeard?

As my readers know, this column frequently has a political orientation.  Some people object a religious site should not have political content.  But historically spirituality has never been purely private except when viewed from a secular perspective that relegates it to the purely subjective, like preferring chocolate ice cream over vanilla. Interestingly, this secular outlook imports powerful monotheistic assumptions under the surface.

However to say that religion has unavoidable political implications is not to make the next jump and say that religion leads to One Right Way politically. This totalitarian conclusion has roots in religions dominating societies and also claiming there is only One Right Way. Christianity, Islam, and Buddhism are tragic examples. By contrast, religions emphasizing sacred immanence, that divinity is within the world wherever else it might be, generally recognize many valid spiritual paths, and more easily live at peace with a diverse political landscape. 

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  • Greybeard
    Greybeard says #
    We have come almost full circle about Liberalism over the past couple hundred years. Liberal started out as someone favoring Libe
  • Gus diZerega
    Gus diZerega says #
    Greybeard- You will never understand this or the following columns if you think of them treating liberalism and conservatism as a
  • Jamie
    Jamie says #
    So much has changed politically, even since the 1970s, that the U.S. mass media's notions of 'liberal' and 'conservative' don't ev
  • Gus diZerega
    Gus diZerega says #
    I will cover this issue never fear. But before it can be really understood I think we need to understand where liberalism and cons
  • Don Kraig
    Don Kraig says #
    Gus, this was a great historical article. Thank you. It seems to me, though, that you have not yet covered how they have evolved

I closed the second of my open letter to Pagan libertarians with a few comments as to what is right about libertarianism. Since discussing the issue continues on this site, I want to explore libertarianism’s positive dimensions a little more. This is complex because the good is interwoven with the not very good, and the interweaving is hidden by popular words covering both, such as “individualism” and “private property.” 

Along the way I will also try and make clear where we Pagans have something important to add in enriching libertarian thinking. 

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  • D. R. Bartlette
    D. R. Bartlette says #
    This is probably the best "answer" to libertarianism I've read. I've always been appalled by the libertarian blindness to the very
  • Gus diZerega
    Gus diZerega says #
    Nice try. Now try an argument sometime.
  • Greybeard
    Greybeard says #
    There seem little value in exchanging personal insults with someone who prefers pseudo-intellectual straw men to real discussion,
  • Gus diZerega
    Gus diZerega says #
    The irony of the strong libertarian position, left or right, is that in their system 'voluntary' contract trumps all other rights
  • Natasha Petrova
    Natasha Petrova says #
    Thanks for the kind words! Gus One issue with the kind of decentralization advocated by Carson is how it would work out in social

Posted by on in Culture Blogs

What does religion have to do with a particular political party? Not much. Political parties are fluid, and politicians are more interested in power than in a particular moral stance. Reagan gave a nod to fundamentalist Christians, and they leapt to align themselves with the Republican party. But now the GOP is getting pressure from many of its members to change its stance on marriage. What will these Christians do then?

My fellow blogger here at Witches and Pagans, Gus DiZerega, would have us be convinced that being Pagan is quite incompatible with being Libertarian. I’m not convinced. Gus spent many years being a Libertarian and has offered considerable philosophic reading in his links. But ultimately, I didn’t come to my interest in Libetarianism through philosophy and scholarly study, but through politics and economics.* My interest in Libertarianism is that it is all about getting government to be smaller and less intrusive. This means fewer laws, and a trust that the market will be better for humans and Nature than will government. Since Gus brought it up, I started thinking more deeply about what spiritual values might underlie our political choices (if any). From there I considered the connections between compassion and responsibility, and personal happiness.

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  • Greybeard
    Greybeard says #
    It is not "BIG" that makes government and business bad. In a nation of over 300 million people and almost 4 million square miles
  • Joseph Bloch
    Joseph Bloch says #
    I maintain that the only political issue that truly applies across the multitude of Pagan faiths is religious freedom. One can fin
  • Greybeard
    Greybeard says #
    Agreed 100%. Getting the government off our backs and out of our pockets should be a goal of every freedom loving human being. G
  • Holli Emore
    Holli Emore says #
    Bravo, Selina! As you know, I do not agree with many of the opinions you express here. But I very much support both your right t
  • Editor B
    Editor B says #
    Have you explored the distinction between anarchism and libertarianism? My primary problem with libertarianism is that it seems li

Libertarians have a long history with modern NeoPaganism. In the early years of our rapid growth science fiction writer Robert Heinlein ‘s Stranger in a Strange Land,   helped inspire creating the Church of All Worlds.  and the libertarian spirit and strong female characters in his The Moon is a Harsh Mistress  was popular with many.  Historically the connection between libertarians and Pagans is deep.  Today many Pagans are libertarians and still more are sympathetic to what they imagine that philosophy to be.

On the surface that connection makes a lot of sense because libertarianism’s ethical principle is remarkably compatible with the Wiccan Rede   Libertarians generally say no one has a right to coerce a peaceful person and our rede states “An it harm none, do as ye will.”

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  • Gus diZerega
    Gus diZerega says #
    Greybeard, I am intrigued that you never ever actually confront a single argument I make, preferring rhetoric no one can disagree
  • Greybeard
    Greybeard says #
    A growing number of Americans, including American pagans, are Libertarian on social issues and Conservative on issues of economic
  • Chris Sherbak
    Chris Sherbak says #
    I'm not libertarian but don't many of the arguments supporting things like "just get another job" presuppose a fairly extensive (a
  • Jamie
    Jamie says #
    Very good and well-reasoned article! I also rejected libertarianism. I despise anarchists, because in my opinion, they also champ


continued from part I.

What is wrong with libertarianism as a philosophy for Pagans?

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  • Diotima
    Diotima says #
    I've looked into libertarianism at various times in my life and found the discussions of individual rights interesting and pertine
  • Gus diZerega
    Gus diZerega says #
    Selina- Why do you ignore every actual argument I give? I do not quite know how to answer your first observation since it is ludi
  • Selina Rifkin
    Selina Rifkin says #
    Even the most cursory reading of the history of political parties shows that they often travel far from their roots. Going by your

b2ap3_thumbnail_porcupine.jpgIn thinking about how my religion informs my political choices, I realize that it only does so in the most general sense. Paganism values Nature not because there was a political movement called Environmentalism, but because our ancestors couldn’t get away from it, and because the poets and artists of the Romantic era placed Her in stark contrast to the burgeoning industrial complex.

As a movement, Environmentalism has some massive failings that I’ve written about here. Gus diZerega advocated voting Democratic in the last election, not because the Democrats were friends of the environment, but because they had a slightly better record. Hardly a ringing endorsement, and certainly not one that touches my religious sensibilities or values. And perhaps it shouldn’t. But I’ll get to that.

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  • Joseph Bloch
    Joseph Bloch says #
    Have you ever checked out "The World's Smallest Political Quiz"? http://www.theadvocates.org/quiz

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