One of the things I like to do is study political terms. For some reason today it occurred to me to wonder about the relationship between the word libertine and liberal. It turns out there is a relationship.
- libertine (n.)
- late 14c., “a freedman, an emancipated slave,” from Latin libertinus “member of a class of freedmen,” from libertus “one’s freedmen,” from liber “free” (see liberal). Sense of “freethinker” is first recorded 1560s, from French libertin (1540s) originally the name given to certain Protestant sects in France and the Low Countries. Meaning “dissolute or licentious person” first recorded 1590s; the darkening of meaning being perhaps due to misunderstanding of Latin libertinus in Acts vi:9. As an adjective by 1570s.
So what about my question? What is the relationship between the word libertine and liberal? Libertines, Leftists, and Libertarians (www.nationalreview.com) offers this observation.
It’s astounding how many times liberals say “libertarian” when they really mean “libertine.” In reality, when it comes to sexual politics, the mindset is far more libertine and left than libertarian. They’re libertine when it comes to certain forms of self-indulgence (don’t tell me what I can do with my body!), but they’re leftist when it comes to the consequences (don’t make me bear the costs of my choices! I thought government is that thing we do together!). (from here)
The author goes on to make this point. While some Libertarians may or may not be libertines, Libertarians do not believe in using government to pay for the cost of their behavior.
When Senator Rand Paul spoke in a speech sponsored by the American Principles Project, he made a similar point.
“‘Libertarian’ …doesn’t mean ‘libertine,’” he said. “To many of us libertarian means freedom and liberty. But we also see that freedom needs tradition.”
He added: “I don’t see libertarianism as, you can do whatever you want. There is a role for government, there’s a role for family, there’s a role for marriage, there’s a role for the protection of life.”
Paul stressed that the value of marriage is economic, as well as “moral” and “religious,” and that those virtues can be communicated through families and communities as well as through the government. (from here)
Conservatism by definition is similar to Libertarianism. Here is how Ronald Reagan put it.
The common sense and common decency of ordinary men and women, working out their own lives in their own way—this is the heart of American conservatism today. Conservative wisdom and principles are derived from willingness to learn, not just from what is going on now, but from what has happened before.” (from here)
What sort of principles? In my new book on Reagan conservatism, I lay out 11 clearly identifiable principles of Reagan conservatism:
- Sanctity and dignity of human life
- American exceptionalism
- The Founders’ wisdom and vision
- Lower taxes
- Limited government
- Peace through strength
- Belief in the individual
CSPAN provides a video (here) of a speech Kengor gave to the Young America’s Foundation. If you are not familiar with Conservative principles, that speech might be a good place to start learning about them.
- Libertarianism is Not Libertinism, Part the Googolplexth (pileusblog.wordpress.com)
- Are Libertines and Liberals the Same? (eternian.wordpress.com)
- Libertines and Liberal Bigots (the-libertarian.co.uk)