A couple of weeks ago, in my article Strange Bedfellows: Liberals and Muslims I made the following statement:
The left, by and large, is a statist movement. Their goals are ultimately achieved through supra-national organisations, the EU currently being the most successful. (The UN is somewhat more complicated because of the presence of Third World countries in the General Assembly, which have the bad taste sometimes to express their own views rather than those of their liberal patrons.) Nation states and NGO’s are their transitional organisations, especially the former, who have the power to tax. They furnish employment for their advocates and dispense patronage for their client groups. Their ability to promulgate laws is, for them, the preferred method of defining morality. If it’s legal, for the left, it’s moral, and illegal is immoral.
This simple fact is underscored in Ed Kilgore’s (from the New Republic) post It’s You, Not Me on why liberals and libertarians are apart again these days, after a flirtatious relationship in 2006:
Well, you can say goodbye to all that. The new Kirby/Boaz study reports that libertarian support for Democrats collapsed in 2008, despite many early favourable assessments of Barack Obama by libertarian commentators. Meanwhile, the economic crisis has raised the salience of issues on which libertarians and Dems most disagree. And there’s no question that during Obama’s first year—with the rise of the Tea Party movement and national debate over bailouts, deficits, and health care—libertarian hostility to the new administration has grown adamant and virtually universal.
Intellectual antecedents notwithstanding, the simple fact is that the post-modern liberal looks to the state for the perfection of their agenda. It’s that simple. There are philosophical reasons for that, but the biggest one is patronage: without the state, most liberals don’t eat. Libertarians have a fundamentally different idea, and papering it over with a common enemy (even one like the Religious Right which inspires such dread) doesn’t change anything.