Jonathan Wilde at the Distributed Republic riffs on the subject with a discussion of Hayek, Popper and rationalism in response to Jim Manzi at NRO’s Corner and has a nice roundup of links. When I read Jonathan say “When there’s a conflict between libertarian policy and federalism, I’ll favor federalism 99% of the time.” I wondered under which situations I would disfavor federalism against libertarianism, and I can’t think of any. Suggestions?

Manzi quotes William F. Buckley (whose obit list I am still expanding) saying “Now if, for instance, a society feels that its attachment to that society is substantially vitiated in virtue of the toleration, let’s say, of a movie based on a comedy treatment of Dachau, it tends to lose self-esteem. And to the extent that it loses self-esteem, it stands in danger of reducing that which is its principal resource in matters of emergency. An America that hates itself cannot possibly defend itself against the Soviet Union or anybody else”. On a certain level I agree that a society that cannot sustain itself will not long have its liberty and so some coercive measures may be necessary (immigration restriction is where I deviate from many libertarians). I just don’t see that example as fitting the bill. We are naturally pre-disposed to favoring ourselves and those we know over others. Laughing at a comedy about the Holocaust does not make us hate ourselves. Worrying about “self-esteem” is for empty-headed liberals; most people could use a good bit less self-esteem. At some point I’ll deal with the over-hyped “threats” and “enemies” used as a justification for the expansion of a government that does a piss-poor job of protecting us (at least on the margin), but for now I’ll link to some previous posts on federalism with regard to marriage, abortion, and in general.

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