Fusionism Taints Free-Market Ideas with the Stench of Social Conservatism


There has been some back and forth on Thoughts on Liberty and on Cato Unbound about whether fusionism, or the alliance between conservatives and libertarians, is actually good for liberty. I’m no fusionist, but if there is one thing I can give libertarian fusionists, it’s that libertarian/conservative sectarian infighting really does fuck up the short game.

Thing is, I’m not playing the short game. I’m not about sacrificing tomorrow’s freedom for today’s election. Fusionism does this in two ways. First, the political process itself coerces people; if your goal is more freedom, getting there through force doesn’t seem to follow. Second, fusionism causes free-market ideas to be aligned with personal tyranny in people’s minds. As social repression continues to lose popularity among younger people, we don’t want economic freedom tainted by it.

Politics is aggression. Most people hand-wave that away as the ramblings of an anarcho-capitalist. And, in a way, I don’t blame them.

We’re born into states. We learn to use political processes to attempt to assert some control over our own lives, and if we succeed we end up controlling other people’s lives in the process. We call it “democracy,” and as far as we know it’s the least terrible form of government coercion.

But what democracy means, ultimately, is that changing things through the political process requires controlling other people through votes. But liberty is the opposite of control.

This is what I mean when I say I’m playing the long game. I’m not sold on coercing people to achieve my goals, laudable as they may be.

The other reason I’m not a fusionist is that demographics change. New generations hold views that differ from their forebears. The current right wing is made up primarily of older people whose views on so-called “social issues” do not jive with the views held by the younger generation.

Conservatives long for a time when female inequality was more severe (and now call this longing “freedom feminism”) and a time when no gays could marry. Conservatives don’t want to see progress on legalizing drugs, sex work or immigration. That means government comes in and tells people how their estates are taxed, what they can put in their bodies, how they can use their bodies and whether or not they can move freely. This is not freedom, and young people understand this.

The problem with fusionism is that it has free marketers aligning themselves with views that are fast going out of style. Sure, you’ll win elections today. But young people now dismiss economic freedom along with social repression and that will be a growing problem for free markets going forward.